The Record Collection: 1988 (51-60)


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The album collection in chronological order from when it was bought. Revisited one at the time. Part 5.

Sonic Youth | Daydream Nation | Blast First 1988 |

Bought in late October 1988, when this was brand new I guess. I knew Sonic Youth a little bit from before, had been scared off by ‘Confusion is Sex’ and fell in love with ‘Sister’ earlier in the same year. But this is still my gateway album into a band I’ve never tired from. Sonic Youth will forever be one of my definitive favorite bands. ‘Daydream Nation’ was a mind blowing experience back then, and it’s just as good today, 30 years later, ranking as one of the true masterpieces of not only 1980s guitar rock, but as a beacon in American underground culture.

R.E.M. | Green | Warner 1988 |

Is ‘Green’, their major label debut, the last great album of R.E.M.? I don’t know, I’m well aware of the enormous success they were about to enjoy later on, but for me, this was actually the final album I bought and enjoyed from start to finish from a band that was tremendously important to me. “World Leader Pretend” will forever remain an eternal favorite, but the whole album is just gorgeous. A soundtrack to the indian summer of 1988.

Divine Horsemen | Devil’s River | New Rose 1986 |

A Lee & Nancy kinda dark cowpunk romance set in the LA gutter, based on equal love for punk rock and honky tonk; Divine Horsemen are one of the true pioneers – but arrived a bit too early to cash in on the thing. ‘Devil’s River’ is their finest moment, and it has aged well too. Chris D and Julie Christensen was a mighty fine unit back in those days. And hey, it’s engineered by Mr Brett over at Westbeach.

Black Flag | My War | SST 1984 |

How much damage did this album cause for a young innocent kid, unaware of the sludgy nightmare on the b-side? I was already a fan of early Black Flag, “Six Pack”, TV Party” and such stuff, but this was a whole other ballgame. Little did I know that ‘My War’ became the gateway album to my grunge phase, right around the corner. The Pettibon cover is brilliant, too.

Green On Red | Green On Red | Down There/Enigma 1982 |

The musical roots to this EP can be traced back to the 1960s and bands like the Seeds and Electric Prunes, infused with the nervous tension of the early 1980s. ‘Green On Red’ is a dense masterpiece from a band in its very infancy, a night road trip from the Arizona desert to the backstreets of Los Angeles, where our protagonists evolves from youthful naivists to dark-eyed realists. “I made a pact with the devil that night” snarls Dan Stuart, while Chris Cacavas clings on to a steady organ drone. This might be a prediction of greater albums to come, but Green On Red never captured this almost dreamlike state of past and present ever again. I love it.

Thin White Rope | Red Sun EP | Demon 1988 |

“Red Sun” is the one majestic centerpiece in a catalog full of them, and it’s still the perfect song for those sweltering 100 degrees summer evenings on the porch. The grinding cover version of “Some Velvet Morning” is also worth mentioning, those guitars stems from a whole other solar system. Such a great EP, such a great band.

The Long Ryders | 10-5-60 | Zippo 1987 |

Six wonderful tracks of paisley power, where ‘60s folk rock meets ‘80s garage revival. “Born To Believe In You” was my favorite back then, and it still is.

True West | Drifters | Zippo 1984 |

The combination of chiming guitars, rootsy sound and retro-friendly jangle pop sure is irresistible. True West did it better than most of their peers, and ‘Drifters’ is their masterpiece. Especially side 2, including some of their most memorable songs, “And Then the Rain”, “Morning Light” and others, is standout. ‘Drifters’ is a mighty fine album.

Lee Clayton | Naked Child | Capitol 1979/1983 |

Where the heck is Lee Clayton today??

Motörhead | Ace Of Spades | Bronze 1980 |

Everything is cool about this album. I believe I bought it – in the fall of 1988 – mostly because of the cover art – I mean, what’s not to dig about those three mighty grim lookin’ cowboys posing in the desert. But the songs are killer too, of course. Timeless on all levels.


The Record Collection: 1988 (41-50)


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The album collection in chronological order from when it was bought. Revisited one at the time. Part 4.

Russ Tolman | Down In Earthquake Town | Demon 1988 |

This is the second solo effort from Russ Tolman, a close associate of the jangle/underground scene in Los Angeles and former frontman of True West. This paisley packed album includes a fine list of guests, such as Steve Wynn (they used to run the label Down There together), Dave Provost and Chris Cacavas, and engineering credits goes to Brett Gurewitz (Bad Religion, Epitaph). Tolman is a good, confident songwriter, and he crafted a varied and enjoyable album down in his earthquake town. It has aged rather well too, with its laidback feel and sunny LA vibe, rich instrumentation, including some mighty fine Southern horns it’s just one of those timeless albums that deserves far better than being swallowed in the sea of time.

Bruce Springsteen | Nebraska | CBS 1982 |

I listened a lot to Born in the U.S.A as a young kid, and know his catalog fairly well, but the lo-fi sounds of Nebraska remains my forever favorite. Not sure why I bought it in the fall of 1988, wasn’t a huge fan of Springsteen, but might be the cover art that appealed to me. Nebraska is actually my sole Springsteen LP in the collection and the one I always return to when I need some advice from the Boss.

E*I*E*I*O | Land of Opportunity | Demon 1985 |

This Wisconsin quartet played some mighty fine heartland Americana way before that was a hip term. There was nothing fancy about them, but on the other hand, this is one of those albums that never sounds outdated. Great vocals by frontman Steve Summers, strong songs throughout the whole album, and T-Bone Burnett lends some guitar assistance and co-production by Steve Berlin are just some of the treats on this debut. E*I*E*I*O fits nicely among likeminded peers such as BoDeans and Rave-Ups, but they never really got as recognized as deserved.

Thin White Rope | Moonhead | Frontier/Zippo 1987 |

Just as close to Television, Bauhaus and Joy Division than their contemporary counterparts in ’80s American underground (R.E.M, The Replacements, Pixies), Thin White Rope’s desert psychedelia was a far more vast and difficult creature to cast than most of their peers. Their second album Moonhead is a somber, bleak masterpiece, allowing for more space, tension and dark power than on their debut. Moonhead is one of the lost classics of the decade, once flourishingly described by British psych-guru Julian Cope: “[Guy] Kyser mumbles stripped down considerations about life, sex and death, and he seems a scientist who describes microscopic life forms. Mankind is reduced to puppet-like dimensions: around us, there’s an enigmatic, useless, obscure universe, apparently enemy of any feeling and thought.” For sure! It was a huge favorite 30 years ago, and it has followed me all my adult life without losing an inch of its majestic strength.

Giant Sand | Ballad of a Thin Line Man | Zippo 1986 |

Back in 1988, 30 years ago, I was still fooling around with music, everything was new and of interest, heading in all kinds of directions at the same time even though I was pretty much already set on the American underground train. I had already bought Storm a couple months prior to Ballad of a Thin Line Man, but it was here they turned into my forever favorite band. And just like I was searching for my musical bliss at the time – still am – Howe Gelb and his Giant Sand had just started to stake out their own course – still are, and that it was one of the reasons I love em. They would go on to make better albums later on I guess, but this one still holds a special place in my sandy heart.

The Gun Club | Miami | Animal 1982 |

‘Come down to, the willow garden with me’ Jeffrey Lee Pierce invites us to Miami, but we steer off the highway and enter into his dark mind, the willow gardens and deep into the very heart of Gothic American mythology. ‘Miami’ is a swampy blues album built on a punkish attitude, draped in voodoo rituals, deserted honky tonks and desperate fever. It has been a big favorite for 30 years, loved for the cover alone with its emerald-green sky and the palms raising majestic behind the trio in front of the image. Two of them look at something in the horizon; Pierce is dressed in dark, hair-dyed blonde, looking down to the ground. I’ve always linked this album to Jim Jarmusch’ ‘Stranger Than Paradise’, following a shabby trio through the Midwest and down to a run down tourist hub in Miami. There is not much paradise to find here, nor in Jeffrey Lee Pierce’ postcard from the south. But it is one damned journey.

Various artists | Rockabilly Psychosis and the Garage Disease | Big Beat 1984 |

I was a huge fan of Tales From the Crypt, Haunt of Fear and all the other early 1950s horror and gore stories from EC Comics (republished in the 80s). This album cover – and they mattered a whole lot back then – is a homage to the wicked and wild era of degenerate fun. And so is the music, a really cool collection of, well, rockabilly psychosis and the garage disease.

Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper | Frenzy | Restless/Enigma 1986 |

This San Diego based twosome was never about being too serious. Titles like “Gonna Put My Face on a Nuclear Bomb”, “I’m Living With a Three-Foot Anti-Christ” and “The Amazing Bigfoot Diet” says it all. They were hilarious and heartfelt, and they rocked big time with their infectious rockabilly blues. Mojo is hollering his lungs out while Skid is jamming on the washboard. There is just loads of party fun here, I’ve always had a soft spot for the satirical highlight and more mellow “Feeling Existential” with Steve Wynn on guest vocal:
‘Your goatee is growin’
In front of your fake French café
You’re readin’ Kirkegaard
Underneath your very black beret
Smokin’ filterless Camels
That stink just like Gitanes
Drinkin’ some espresso
Droppin’ all the names’

Giant Sand | Valley of Rain | Amazing Black Sand/Enigma 1985 |

Bought in October, anywhere 1988, my third Giant Sand LP that year, and one of the albums I’ve listened to the most my entire life. 30 years down the road I’m still amazed by how cool it is. Little did I know that these desert punks would soon blossom into something totally unique and follow me close until this very day. One of those random love stories I guess. A nice landscape, indeed…

The Beat Farmers | Tales Of The New West | Demon 1985 |

Here’s to having a good time, new western style. The Beat Farmers might came just a bit too early for the craze, but who cares. The San Diego based quartet’s debut album is packed with unpretentious, tight and fun songs. Great originals, cool covers and then there’s Country Dick Montana.
‘I was walkin’ down the street on a sunny day
Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba
A feeling in my bones that I’ll have my way
Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba
Well I’m a happy boy (happy boy)
Well I’m a happy boy (happy boy)’
There’s really nothing do but to raise the glass and sing along.

The Record Collection: 1988 (31-40)


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The album collection in chronological order from when it was bought. Revisited one at the time. Part 3, Spring 1988.

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers | It’s Time For… | Rough Trade 1986 |

This album is summer to me. To be just about sixteen and hear “Just About Seventeen” for the first time was just about right on time. I immediately fell for Richman’s naive and almost childlike qualities, but behind the immediate charm are somber songs (“Ancient Long Ago”, “When I Dance”, “The Desert”) with enduring qualities lasting way past being seventeen and well into adulthood. This album still evokes the endless summer days of youth.

The Legendary Stardust Cowboy | Rock-It To Stardom | Big Beat 1985 |

Yee-haw, this is a way out rodeo ride from the cattle ranch to outer space and back by the one and only Legendary Stardust Cowboy from Lubbock, Texas. “Paralyzed” is the obvious novelty hit here; jaw-dripping hilarious and remarkably addictive. The Ledge made some wild rockabilly/psychobilly stuff back in the days, sometimes out of tune – “Who’s Knocking On My Door!” barely holds together and “Fly Me to the Moon” is, well, let’s say a bit weirder than Sinatra’s smooth version. “I Walk a Hot Wind” wouldn’t be totally off on a Cramps-album, and so it goes. Rock-it to Stardom is one helluva joyride even though it’s a bit overwhelming to digest all at once. Bowie was a fan and a friend, and supposedly invented Ziggy Stardust based on this here cowboy. The Ledge is still out there; whooping and a hollering to the moon.

Various artists | Don’t Shoot | Zippo/Demon 1986 |

Americana or were not frequently used terms when these (mainly) L.A cowpunks came riding into town. This collection serves as a great introduction to the scene, including core figures from bands like The Long Ryders, Green on Red, The Rain Parade, Giant Sand and many others doing a fine mix of covers and originals. Danny & Dusty kicks the whole thing off with previously unreleased “Bend in the Road”, the outlaw brotherhood anthem is still the highlight from an album filled with delightful neon dust from the sunset highway.

Dead Kennedys | Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables | Cherry Red 1981 |
Dead Kennedys | Plastic Surgery Disasters | Alternative Tentacles 1982 |
Dead Kennedys | Bedtime For Democracy | Alternative Tentacles 1986 |
Dead Kennedys | Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death | Alternative Tentacles 1987 |

In the summer of 1988 a friend of mine sold his LP’s when switching over to CD. I couldn’t afford buying a whole lot, but I managed to get hold of four albums by Dead Kennedys and almost completed their catalogue in one big swoop. Hit packed Fresh Fruit… and Give Me Convenience… became instant faves, and turned me on to a long and lasting relationship with not only Jello Biafra but to all the tentacles of the Alternative Tentacles universe. I learned a lot from the Kennedys, approving their anger and enjoying their satire. In the era of the Trump Empire a band like Dead Kennedys is sorely missed, even though much of their socio-political message is just as relevant today.

The Replacements | Pleased To Meet Me | Sire 1987 |

The transition from being a underground punk to gain mainstream fame reached its zenith with ‘Nevermind’ topping the charts in the early 90s. But the road to Nirvana started some years before, and The Replacements is a prime example of this journey (they even got their own “Never Mind” here). This is of course mockingly illustrated with the cover art, and in the music. Without losing sight of their punk roots in Minneapolis, this is the sound of a band growing up and – under the supervision of Jim Dickinson in Memphis – entangling deeper and wider than ever before. The Replacements were never about perfection, faults and flaws played an integral part of their sound and was something they built their entire recording career on. But they never sounded so imperfectly perfect as on Pleased To Meet Me. I’m still listening, looking at the stars and dreaming of the skyway.

Motor Boys Motor | Motor Boys Motor | Albion 1982 |

Taking their name from Joe Strummer’s 101’s song, Motor Boys Motor made just one album before guitarist Bill Carter and bassist Chris Thompson formed the Screaming Blue Messiahs. They were children of the pub rock craze, spiced up with avant rock influences (Beefheart, Pere Ubu) and R&B/blues roots. Some cool moments here and there, some silly ones (“Here Come the Flintstones”), they never really surpass the killer opening track “Drive Friendly” and never got quite as hazardous as the striking cover art.

deLillos | Suser avgårde | Sonet 1986 |

Det må ha vært sommeren 1985. Jeg hørte fast på Ungdommens Radioavis på den tiden – mediemangfoldet var noe begrenset – og den sommeren spilte de låtene fra rockemønstringen på høy rotasjon. Jeg husker ikke så mange av de andre finalistene, men «Siste sommerferiedag» med deLillos festet seg umiddelbart – den traff nok en dypt iboende melankolsk nerve – og ble min favorittlåt det året. Jeg satt hjemme og ventet på at den kanskje skulle komme, hver lørdag tror jeg det var, for det var ingen andre muligheter enn å sitte foran radioen og vente. Litt senere hørte jeg «Johnny Fredrik» og så viste Halvsju videoen til «Tøff i pyjamas», og sammen med Jokke ble deLillos mitt første og største norske favorittband. Suser avgårde er den eneste LP-platen i samlingen som jeg faktisk kjøpte først på CD – i 1987 må det ha vært, deretter på nytt igjen på LP året etter. Uansett format, ‘Suser avgårde’ er en fantastisk bra plate, fri for dødpunkter, som hver gang gjenskaper følelsen av ungdom og sommer, der naivisme og uskyld møter gryende voksenalvor og usikkerhet. Jeg var allerede godt kjent med musikken til R.E.M, The Chills og Jonathan Richman, og det var først og fremst i denne musikalske tradisjonen deLillos hørte hjemme i mitt hode. Men de sang på norsk, og de talte til meg uten omveier. Det var ikke noe jeg heller ville bli enn en forsoffen student som flanerte langs brosteinslagte bygater, gå på fester med søte piker og drøssevis av vinkasser, ja bare suse avgårde inn i livet.

The Record Collection: 1988 (20-30)


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The album collection in chronological order from when it was bought. Revisited one at the time.

The Dream Syndicate | The Days Of Wine And Roses | Closer 1982 |

I vividly remember buying this LP – the French pressing – on my first ever record fair, early in 1988. I was well aware of The Dream Syndicate at the time, going back to Out of the Grey that I’d bought on cassette a couple years before. I adore all of Syndicate’s albums, but I always find myself returning to this here baby. The Days Of Wine and Roses must’ve been an anomaly in 1982, way ahead and out of tune with the sign of the times it marks the return of GUITARS in American rock. This is a tour de force of loud, noisy, abrasive, distorted, tickling guitars, cool Velvet vibes and an almost free jazzy approach to the songs. They are all awesome, from creepy beasts like “Halloween” (oh, when those guitars kick in) and “When You Smile” to full force freak outs (the kosmisch title track, “Definitely Clean”) and instant college rock anthems (“Tell Me When It’s Over”). In short, this is a cornerstone in 80’s American guitar rock that set a standard hardly anyone has managed to achieve ever after. Stories and words are here and gone, but this album hasn’t faded at all.

Wall of Voodoo | The Ugly Americans In Australia | I.R.S. 1988 |

I’d been drawn to the stoic super-American voice of Stan Ridgeway for some years when the Wall Of Voodoo live album hit the shelves in 1988. I guess it felt like a quite unnecessary purchase back then, I haven’t given it too many spins, and this live LP doesn’t really reveal new magic 30 years down the road. But, there are some great explorations of sci-fi new wave gone country here, horseback space travel style. “Far Side Of Crazy” and “Mexican Radio” are obvious favorites, and the version of “Ring Of Fire” is pretty dope. Never saw them live, but I believe this LP captures the band in prime shape – and the sound quality is not too bad either. However, when I feel like listening to WoV I rather pick up one of their awesome studio albums. Think I’ll do just that right now.

The Sex Pistols | Never Mind The Bollocks | Virgin 1977 |

One of remarkably few albums in my LP collection bought on its historical merits rather than being new and fresh. As a matter of fact Never Mind the Bollocks was only 10 years old then, comparable to buying a 2008 album today, but back in those days this was an old school dinosaur from a whole other time. Never a huge fan of British punk in general, and finding Johnny Rotten’s voice mostly annoying, I have to acknowledge the band’s unquestionable qualities and their nose for efficient songwriting. No fillers here, just pure punk catchy as hell. No need to go in depth on its historical significance, just one of those albums you need to know I guess. Glad I turned on as a kid, even though I rarely listen to it.

Giant Sand | Storm | Demon 1988 |

Storm was my introduction to the wondrous world of Howe Gelb and his Giant Sand, and what has now turned out to be a 30 year long relationship. Giant Sand have always been all over the map, difficult to pigeonhole, unmistakable unpredictable and remarkably recognizable. I’m so thankful for stumbling down their desert rabbit hole, and it all started with Storm. It obviously holds a special place in my heart. The songs range from Neil Young style environmental concern, a cover of The Band’s “The Weight”, straight out honky tonk, ragged country rock (“Town Without Pity”), country gospel (“The Replacement”) and dusty piano ballads (my personal fave “Was Is a Big Word”) – on Storm Howe Gelb started to shape a signature style of songwriting unmatched by anyone.

Hasil Adkins | He Said | Ace/Big Beat 1985|

Wild, wayward and hell-bent, the one man band of Hasil Adkins exploded like a bomb in the ears of this here kid, proving rock n’ roll was something wilder and primitive, more untamed and way out there than your parents Elvis albums. This is the raw sound of a one man rebellion against conformity and boredom. “She Said” being the classic tune here, I also tuned into the even more awkward and freaky “We Got a Date.” They just don’t make em like Hasil anymore.

Rave-Ups | Town + Country | Fun Stuff/Demon 1985 |

Americana was not a frequently used term in 1985, but plenty of bands played boots ‘n roll before Uncle Tupelo et al pushed the direction further into the mainstream and new directions. Among those pioneering acts in the early to mid 80s we find Hollywood via Pittsburgh quartet Rave-Ups, sparkling with equal parts pleasant college rock fervor and neo-country twang – town and country if you like. Frontman Jimmer Podrasky sang with nasal country sincerity, sometimes with a rockabilly yelp, and Sneaky Pete Kleinow lays down some mighty fine pedal steel here too. “Radio” was the big favorite back then, and this haunting night tune is still the highlight amongst a number of other fine cuts – “Positively Lost Me” being the most famous. The back cover reminds us of a time when urban cowboys actually were pretty in pink.

AC/DC | Back in Black | Atlantic 1980 |

My record collection is scarcely populated with hard rock or metal albums, but the ones I bought are actually not too bad. Back in Black is by all means a classic, the title track, “Hells Bells” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” are eternal anthems in the Aussie rockers – or anyone’s – catalog. Tight production provided by Mutt Lang and Brian Johnson passed the test and immediately proved he could fill the shoes of Bon Scott adds even more power to this album. But I can’t say I ever played this a whole lot in 1988 and I haven’t listened to it too much as the years went by either. My loss, I guess.

Violent Femmes | Violent Femmes | Slash/London 1983 |

A little girl glances through a darkened window, barefoot and with a white summer dress on, resembling a 19th century painting. What’s in there, in the dark, that we don’t see? The innocent child catches a glimpse into the adult world, as confessed by a college kid, a world of deception and debauchery, religious shame and sexual confusion, love, lies and lust. Many have done this before and after, but none as compelling as Gordon Gano and his Violent Femmes on their debut album. The Milwaukee trio played punk rock with folk instruments, or folk songs with a punk attitude perhaps, singing their hearts out from any street corner. One thing is that the songs are super catchy, the lyrics really makes this a standout album. I memorized each and every one, these stories all became the soundtrack to my youth. Every time I listen to this album I’m 16 again, kissing off in the air, chasing that good feeling, trying to wipe away the shades from those windows and get a glimpse of the secrets in there.

Concrete Blonde | Concrete Blonde | I.R.S. 1986 |

“Still in Hollywood” was the big favorite back in the days, and it’s still the standout track from Concrete Blonde’s debut album. Hailing from the same buzzing LA scene that included bands like Wall Of Voodoo, X, Jane’s Addiction and The Gun Club, the blondes certainly had a punk edge to their sound, softened with a rock approach in the vein of The Pretenders and Heart. Johnette Napolitano is unquestionably the star, with her recognizable strong voice and cool attitude. Concrete Blonde made better albums later on in their career, but I still get a kick out of this one. It’s true.

Iron Maiden | Live After Death | EMI 1985 |

Superior technical skills, theatrical gimmicks, and over the top performance are just some of Iron Maiden’s characteristics – and they all come out to play on their 1985 live album. The Churchill intro followed by “Aces High” sets the standard for an album that leaves no room for any fillers. Live After Death captures the band in its prime. Classic cover art too, as always. Can’t wait for the kids to discover this, cause after all, Iron Maiden speaks to the inner child in all of us.

The Record Collection: 1988 (1-20)


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The album collection in chronological order from when it was bought. Revisited one at the time.

Fetchin Bones | Bad Pumpkin | Capitol 1986 |

Underrated and sadly forgotten North Carolina quintet combining a kind of Southern jangly vibe with restless proto-grunge. They supported R.E.M and the B-52’s, whom they both are sonically related to. This is their second album, marking their move from small db Records to a major label without losing their spark. Rather this LP still holds up thanks to careful production by Don Dixon and tight songs throughout the record. And Hope Nicholls was a great singer back then, and she still is.

Ben Vaughn Combo | The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn | Restless/Making Waves 1986 |

‘I got a 1969 Rambler American/Baby aren’t you impressed/Sure I could have a Datsun 280 Z/But I’m not like all the rest’ Ben Vaughn blends humor and wit with classic American music; rock’n’roll, rockabilly and country twang. He’s been doing his thing since the early 1980’s, and has released albums better than this during his long career. But Vaughn and his Combo had such an irresistible charm on songs like “I’m Sorry (But So Is Brenda Lee)”, “I Dig You Wig” and “Wrong Haircut” that makes his debut album still a treat to listen to.

The Dream Syndicate | This Is Not The New Dream Syndicate Album… Live! | A&M 1984 |

Recorded live at the Aragon in Chicago one hot July night in 1984, when The Dream Syndicate toured on ‘The Medicine Show’ (released a month prior) with R.E.M. Only five songs long, but these are all classics – from a band in blistering shape. The classic line up of Steve Wynn, Dennis Duck, guitarist Karl Precoda on his last album with the Syndicate, and newcomer Mark Walton. Tommy Zvoncheck guests on keys, but this performance is first and foremost about four guys and great songs; long jams, feedback orgies and the joy of a sweaty club night. That’s rock and roll.

Guadalcanal Diary | 2×4 | Elektra/Asylum 1987 |

Producer Don Dixon is synonymous with some of the finest guitar rock of the 1980s, with a jangly signature sound that mainly captured the spirit of Southern indie and mostly known for his work with early R.E.M. Guadalcanal Diary, also from Georgia, never earned the same levels of commercial success. A new listen to the hands down masterpiece ‘2×4’ serves as a reminder on how that is just unfair. They shared some obvious similarities, but this quartet had a more direct and extrovert approach to their songwriting. This is their finest moment, an energetic and eclectic set of pure excellent songs.

The Screaming Blue Messiahs | Bikini Red | Elektra 1987 |

London based Screaming Blue Messiahs rose from the ashes of Motor Boys Motor (named after a 101’ers tune) exposing a crew owing debt to the likes of Bo Diddley, Little Richard and Captain Beefheart. With some adjustments to the line-up, the smokin’ trio was finally settled as the highly skilled outfit of Bill Carter on guitar and vocals, Chris Thompson on bass and Kenny Harris on thundering drums. Soon after they were renamed the Screaming Blue Messiahs. The Vic Maile produced ‘Bikini Red’ saw the band dwelling even deeper into iconic American pop and trash culture. Complete with references to Elvis, cars, booze, TV evangelists and fast living, the music itself proves an amalgam of rockabilly, rhythm & blues, hillbilly and surf fronted by Bill Carter who (with an American accent) declared that “Jesus Chrysler Drives a Dodge,” “I Can Speak American” and even “I Wanna Be a Flintstone.

Various artists | I Was A Teenage Zombie | Enigma 1987 |

Still haven’t seen the movie, but suspect the soundtrack is superior to the comedy-horror flick. This is a decent selection with some of the finest indie artists of the time picked from the Enigma roster. The db’s, Smithereens, and Los Lobos are all in here, and the Fleshtones got a minor hit with the theme song. The highlights are Violent Femmes’ “Good Feeling” and The Dream Syndicate with the haunting masterpiece “Halloween.”

R.E.M | Chronic Town | I.R.S 1982
R.E.M | Murmur | I.R.S 1983 |
R.E.M | Reckoning | I.R.S 1984 |

I discovered R.E.M with ‘Life’s Rich Pageant’ as a 13-14 year old kid, and immediately fell in love, not only with R.E.M but in alternative American guitar rock in general. So when I finally switched over from cassettes to LP’s in 1988, purchasing their back catalog was obviously a high priority. One lucky day I went home with ‘Chronic Town’, ‘Murmur’ and ‘Reckoning’ bought from a friend, meaning days and weeks of deep listening. Humming along to barely recognizable lyrics. R.E.M might went on to release better albums later in their career, but these three albums, they’re all equal to me, really captures all I love about them. And they still sound as adventurous and amazing as they did on that February day in 1988.

Green On Red | Gas Food Lodging | Enigma 1985 |

Green On Red released nothing but excellent albums between 1982-88, and some great moments in the years after. This is the band in its prime; Dan Stuart, Big Dog MacNicol (RIP), Jack Waterson, Chuck Prophet and Chris Cacavas made one helluva great line up, supported with fine production from Paul B. Cutler of the Dream Syndicate. From the blazing opener ‘That’s What Dreams’ to the campfire version of ‘We Shall Ocercome’, this is rootsy ragged rock at it’s finest, but side 2 with ‘Sixteen Ways’, ‘The Drifter’ and ‘Sea Of Cortez’ are particular standouts. Heck, all of them are.

Thin White Rope | Bottom Feeders | Zippo/Frontier 1988|

Not too many bands can boast a recorded history without any major flaws. But Northern California’s Thin White Rope are one of those. They made great studio albums throughout, well known for their even more ferocious live shows of massive wall of guitars and bulldozer sound. The group never really fit into the categories used for branding guitar dominated rock in the 1980s. Thin White Rope were too harsh to be labeled as jangle, too loud for the emerging alternative country movement and too dark to fit into the flowery Paisley Underground. ‘Bottom Feeders’ is an EP of four originals and two covers (Jimmy Reed’s “Ain’t That Loving You Baby” and highlighted with a blistering live version of Suicide’s “Rocket USA”) and tucked between the bleak masterpieces ‘Moonhead’ and astonishing ‘In The Spanish Cave’. But there’s no reason to ignore this little beast of chainsaw guitars, raspy vocal and spooky vibes. Great cover art by Steve Blickenstaff.

The Dead Kennedys | Frankenchrist | Alternative Tentacles 1985 |

In an ideal world, songs about corrupt government, robots replacing the working class, suburban decay and structural racism would be of out of date some 30 years down the line. Alas, as we all know, the topics raised on ‘Frankenchrist’ are more relevant than ever. “No wonder others hate us/And the Hitlers we handpick/To bleed their people dry/For our evil empire”, Biafra sings on the album standout ‘Stars and Stripes of Corruption’ like an omen for the presidency and leadership in 2018. ‘Frankenchrist’ might lack the immediate punk anthems of its predecessors, but musically this is also Kennedy’s best and most diverse album, where they expanded their punk roots and embraced a far more eclectic sound to include surf, Latin, psychedelic and synth elements. The album is mostly remembered for the massive controversy that followed, when the band was brought to court – and to their knees – due to the inlay poster ‘Penis Landscape’ by H.R Giger. Such fools, when the real concern should’ve been on solving the real problems outlined here. ‘Frankenchrist’ is an underrated gem in the band’s catalog.

The Replacements | Let it Be | Twin/Tone / Zippo 1984 |

This is just the ultimate album when you’re 16 and life to go. The Replacements’ combination of restless energy and slacker attitude, teen angst and drunken confidence hit like a bomb when I bought ‘Let It Be’ in 1988, and it became the soundtrack into adolescence. “How young are you?/How old am I?/Let’s count the rings around my eyes” is just an ace opening statement into an album packed with classic coming of age tunes miles ahead from their previous more punk based efforts, sometimes like a mix of the Stones’ swagger and ‘Born to Run’ era Springsteen. The album cover is perfect too, remember how I just wanted to climb that roof and squeeze in between these four hoodlums from Minneapolis.

Green On Red | Gravity Talks | Slash 1983 |

I first heard Green On Red on the ‘Slash Cuts’ compilation, where “Five Easy Pieces” was a standout. Driven by Chris Cacavas’ psychedelic keyboard swirls and Dan Stuart’s snarling vocals, the band found their own place in their infancy combining 60’s garage/psychedelia and Dylanesque folk-rock. Gravity Talks is a very fine document of this epoch, provided by a bunch of clever outlaw kids from Arizona still not sure about where to go. I love the nervous desperation that hangs over the whole album, a youthful energy impossible to replicate later in a career. ‘We don’t pretend to know everything or speak out loud like our parents did’, Stuart sings on the anthemic “Brave Generation”, name checking Fitzgerald and Faulkner on a coming of age story of growing up between the Vietnam war and Cold War anxiety: ‘We’re not beat, we’re not hip, we’re the Brave Generation, what a trip.’

The Del Fuegos | Boston Mass | Slash 1985 |

Yet another album bought off the ‘Slash Cuts’ compilation I guess. There was nothing hip or super fancy about the Del Fuegos in 1988, still aren’t. But their basic and credible urban heartland rock ‘n’ roll has some strong timeless qualities – and time has fared rather well with this one, their second album. Fronted by the Zanes’ brothers and produced by Mitchell Froom, Del Fuegos’ hammered out a couple of easy to like bar room and streetwise backroad tunes – equally perfect for both purposes (not at the same time though). This is the ‘sound of our town’, that’s the sound of Boston, Mass all right.

The Dream Syndicate | Medicine Show | A&M 1984 |

Following their raucous debut full length, The Dream Syndicate signed with a major label, teamed up with renowned producer Sandy Pearlman (Blue Öyster Cult, The Dictators, The Clash) and spent five months in the studio to finish their Medicine Show. It was met with various receptions at the time, but has gained favorable to classical status over the years. Pearlman and Syndicate shaped a far different sound for this album, more related to Television, The Cars and Neil Young than Velvet Underground. This is American gothic stories filled with some of Steve Wynn’s most memorable characters on songs like “Burn”, “Armed With An Empty Gun” and “Bullet With My Name On It.” But the panoramic widescreen vision reveals in its full on side 2: The title track, the blistering jam “John Coltrane Stereo Blues” and “Merritville” are all epic and has deservedly so become standards in the band’s catalogue. Medicine Show was obtained at a time when learning the lyrics was part of buying an album. I memorized all of these songs by heart, and they’re still holding on to me.

Hüsker Dü | Warehouse: Songs And Stories | Warner 1987 |

Could have been the one to boast Zen Arcade or New Day Rising as my entry points to Hüsker Dü, but as it happened their swan song Warehouse: Songs and Stories became my gateway album. I discovered them without any anticipation or deep knowledge about their astonishing back catalogue. I was just thrown into this sprawling sonic assault of thin fuzz, frenetic pace and way to clever poetry for a kid my age. It was almost too much. I guess the sheer intensity and emotional depth did resonate very well at the time. And the songs are catchy as hell. I didn’t care to much about the front cover though, but adored the back cover; those three weird and average looking guys laying on the grass surrounded by psychedelic blasts. 30 years down the road it still sounds like an amalgam of 60’s pop anthems filtered through a punk psychedelic odyssey, I particularly recall “Ice Cold Ice”, “Could You Be the One” and especially “She Floated Away” being played nonstop. Warehouse: Songs And Stories is a breathtaking kaleidoscopic soundtrack of youth, the sound of a band that had finally grown up – but also a band that were falling apart. In the end, I guess everything does.

The Del-Lords | Johnny Comes Marching Home | EMI America 1986 |

Of all the albums bought in my pioneer days, this is the one I probably know the least. I don’t recall the actual purchase, nor the songs in detail. So with a bit of excitement I drop the needle and press play. Just like the first time. The archetypal 80s sound aside, time has fared rather well with Johnny. The cover doesn’t lie. These four tough, denim and leather dressed New York guys could’ve been lifted straight outta ‘American Graffiti’, cruising down the main drag and looking for trouble at the soda shop while hanging round the jukebox. And it’s pretty much that kind of music they make; no nonsense rock rooted directly back to the 1950s with a modernized and radio friendly sound – and some nice parts of chiming Byrds-like guitars. Not bad at all, formerly Dictators’ and front man Scott Kempner is a great songwriter and assembled a more than decent cast of characters, including Eric ‘Roscoe’ Ambel, for The Del-Lords. Sometimes all we need is to rock out, have a good time and don’t worry too much. The sound of carefree times has no expiration date.

Danny & Dusty | The Lost Weekend | A&M 1985 |

When you’re 15-16, life’s at the crossroads. Your path is not yet set, there are choices to be made; sports, school, or well, smoking and drinking. Now, I’ll never blame Danny & Dusty for leading me down the wrong road, but those two fellas on the cover sure seems to have a good time! Who doesn’t wanna join in on their drunken choir? And Danny & Dusty sounds just like a couple friends having the time of their lives. It certainly helps when they happened to be Dan Stuart and Steve Wynn, joined by a fine group of likeminded ramblers from The Long Ryders and Green On Red/The Dream Syndicate. They dropped most of their gloomy credibility and pretensions outside and entered the bar with nothing but good intentions: to sing, drink, shoot stories, long on talk and short on cash, and drink some more. ‘One’s too many, and a hundred’s not enough’ as they say in the legendary movie The Lost Weekend (I watched it immediately after buying the album.) The result is loose and spontaneous, but not too sloppy, rather it’s rowdy, confident and has actually aged very well. The songs are great, from when the word is out until we knock on heavens door begging for hangover relief on Sunday. Chris Cacavas is perfect as the barroom pianist, Dan and Steve know how to tell stories about winners and losers in the shadow of the Hollywood neon glimmer. Lebowski might be the dude, but these guys, they were the real dudes.

The Cramps | Psychedelic Jungle | I.R.S. 1981 |

‘Primitive, that’s how I live.’ Lux Interior holler and howls all the way through ‘Psychedelic Jungle.’ The Cramps’ second album is onehelluva slow burning garbage crate digging bonanza of 1950s sleaze and dark shades, a wild, weird and wicked entry to a world of voodoo rockabilly, haunted garage rock and deranged punk. I discovered the band, as far as I remember, with a live version of “Sunglasses After Dark” played on radio, and was immediately hooked. I don’t play this too often though, must’ve been years since I was reminded to not eat stuff from the sidewalk

Year of the Rooster: Årets album og låter 2017


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Mitt lyttemønster preges i stor og økende grad av enkeltlåter framfor konsentrerte dypdykk ned i enkeltalbum. Noe skyldes et relativt stort musikalsk konsum hver dag og uke, som ikke gir altfor store rom for grundig fordypning over tid, et luksusproblem som også sier noe om det enorme berget av god musikk som kontinuerlig kommer ut (mest middelmådig, men hvem har vel tid til å bry seg om denslags). Det er derfor kanskje litt bråkjekt å si det, men 2017 har ikke vært preget av dette ene opplagte albumet – det som virkelig har klistret seg fast til den digitale eller fysiske platespilleren i uke etter uke, men snarerer denne jevne strømmen som legger seg til det evig voksende lasset som venter på å bli hørt i den kontekstuelle helheten de fortjener.

Her er lista over albumene og låtene jeg har gledet meg mest over i år, så langt, og jeg tror alle følger med over til 2018 uten å miste altfor mye glans.

Årets album 2017

Kendrick Lamar: Damn
(Top Dawg/Interscope)

– … fordi Hot DAMN. Så bra at han like gjerne ga den ut både framlengs og baklengs. Kunne gitt den ut sidelengs for min del.

Mount Eerie: A Crow Looked At Me
(P.W. Elverum & Sun, Ltd.)

… fordi dette er den av årets plater jeg har hørt mest på som jeg har hørt minst på – og som jeg egentlig ikke vil høre på. Ikke fordi den er dårlig, på langt nær, men fordi det gjør vondt og det er tungt å gå inn i entreen sammen med Phil Elverum denne gangen. Han åpner døra for oss inn til sitt hjem og hjerte, dunkelt belyst er det, leier oss liksom inn, inn i et hus fylt av minner og lukter og savn og sorg etter kona, og han viser oss dette med alt av menneskelig styrke og svakhet som det er mulig å stable på plass i en skjelven favn. Jeg er glad for at han gjorde det. Og lei meg for at han måtte det.

Power Trip: Nightmare Logic
(Southern Lord)

… fordi ingen tar skade av en porsjon mettal for å røske opp litt i ny og ne. Jeg har alltid likt Southern Lord og hatt sans for deres mørke og seige doom-ting, men dette er pur party fra start til slutt, det vil si snaue halvtimen. Jeg har så vidt begynt å olje en litt rusten kjærligheten for vintage thrash, og denne har bare trigget interessen ytterligere. Nightmare Logic har noen av de feteste riffene du vil høre i år, og det i selskap med særs mange sterke metall-utgivelser (Pallbearer, Bell Witch, Converge, Chelsea Wolfe, Wolves in the Throne Room, Elder, Converge…) står denne igjen som årets favoritt – og årets tøffeste råkkeskive.

Tyler the Creator: Flower Boy

… fordi selv om Tyler the Creator har med seg et fett stjernelag på gjestelisten, inkludert Frank Ocean, Kali Uchis, A$ap Rocky, Jaden Smith, “vår egen” Anna of the North og mange andre, er dette først og fremst blomsterguttens eget mesterverk. På sitt fjerde soloalbum fortsetter Tyler the Creator å tøye musikalske grenser og brette ut sjela si på et vis som er sterkt imponerende.

Rhiannon Giddens: Freedom Highway

… fordi Americana-genren aldri har stått sterkere, med en lang rekke artister, nye og gamle, som alle har levert noen av årets beste og mest relevante plater, som Jason Isbell, John Moreland, Zephaniah Ohora, Rodney Crowell, Hurray For the Riff Raff, Angaleena Presley og en lang rekke andre. Rhiannon Giddens stikker seg likevel ut litt ekstra som en kraftfull og klar stemme i et betent politisk klima. Vandrende langs den sølete frihetsveien har frontfiguren fra Carolina Chocolate Drops laget en plate som med røtter dypt ned i bakken og langt tilbake i tid belyser Amerika av i dag.

Brockhampton: Saturation II
(Question Everything)

… fordi dette Texas/Los Angeles baserte hiphop-kollektivet (unnskyld, boybandet) er årets suverene nykommer, som i år like gjerne fullførte hele sin Saturation-trilogi. Anført av ekstremt kreative Kevin Abstract preges Brockhampton av et vitalt musikalsk overskudd som går på tvers av genre og der alle involverte løfter hverandre opp og fram.

Jane Weaver: Modern Kosmology

… fordi Jane Weaver på sitt sjette album har funnet den perfekte kombinasjonen av deilige krautbeats, rastløs psykedelia og flørtende electronica. Modern Kosmology er som tittelen indikerer en speisa trip ut i kosmos, men det er en plate som heller aldri mister bakkekontakten. Jane Weaver synger med sval og sober stemme, litt sånn Nico-drømmeaktig, og som en sirene lokker hun oss inn i sitt Wicker Man’ske eventyrrike som vi aldri har lyst til å komme ut av.

Peter Perrett: How the West Was Won

…fordi denne tidligere tidligere frontmannen i The Only Ones (de med “Another Girl, Another Planet” og en drøss andre klassikere) har levd flere liv enn de fleste av oss, kommet ut av rennesteinen på mirakuløst vis og minner om at egenskapene som låtskriver ikke har blitt borte på veien. Snarere tvert i mot. Peter Perrett (65) skriver med hjertet bankende utenpå skjorta. Lakonisk og hjertevarm, mørk og morsom lirer han ut av seg smått briljante låter med et blikk og en penn skarpere og mer presis enn de fleste kan drømme om å nærme seg. Hjerteskjærende bra.

Gun Outfit: Out of Range
(Paradise Of Bachelors)

… fordi jeg er en sucker for slackers. Det har kommet mye fint i denne gata i år, Kevin Morby, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile og Michael Nau kunne alle vært med her. Men jeg går for denne. Gun Outfit hangler avgårde sånn akkurat passe vindskeivt og fint, men på finurlig vis får de det til å henge sammen. Liker du den slentrende vokalstilen til David Berman (Silver Jews) og de skakke melodilinjene til Pavement koplet med den rastløse energien til The Feelies er dette akkurat den dosen med Cosmic American Indie du trenger i år.

Curtis Harding: Face Your Fear

… fordi Curtis Harding har en av disse uimotståelige varme soul-stemmene, og han forvalter arven etter de store (Marvin, Curtis et al) bedre enn de fleste – uten egentlig å bryte ny grunn. Han imponerte med debuten Soul Power i 2014, og fortsetter den fine stilen med Face Your Fear. Jeg hadde ikke tenkt at denne skulle havnet på Topp 20, dette er ikke en plate som nødvendigvis avdekker nye hemmeligheter for hver gjennomhøring, men den sitter veldig godt på øret til de fleste sammenhenger og har hengt med gjennom hele året. Og alle trenger vi en god dose soul i hverdagen.


Valerie June: The Order of Time

Posse: Horse Blanket

The Feelies: In Between

Couch Slut: Contempt
(Gilead Media)

Anouar Brahem: Blue Maqams

Ruby Rushton: Trudi’s Songbook: Volume One & Two

Kaleema: Nómada
(Tropical Twista)

Trio Da Kali & Kronos Quartet: Ladilikan
(World Circuit)

Dean Hurley: Anthology Resource Vol. 1: △△
(Sacred Bones)

Zara McFarlane: Arise
(Brownswood Recordings)

Howe Gelb & Lonna Kelly: Further Standards


~ ~ ~ bobbling below ~ ~ ~
//JAY Z: 4:44//Susanne Sundfør: Music For People In Trouble//Fleet Foxes: Crack-Up//Thundercat: Drunk//Grizzly Bear: Painted Ruins//Michael Nau: Some Twist//This is the Kit: Moonlight Freeze//The Dream Syndicate: How Did I Find Myself Here//Sannhet: So Numb//Gas: Narkopop//Thurston Moore: Rock N Roll Consciousness//The War on Drugs: A Deeper Understanding//Slowdive: s/t//Protomartyr: Relatives in Descent//Laura Marling: Semper Femina//Aimee Mann: Mental Illness//Waxahatchee: Out in the Storm//Big Thief: Capacity//Joan Shelley: s/t//Aldous Harding: Party//Father John Misty: Pure Comedy//Tara Jane O’Neil: s/t//Rodney Crowell: Close Ties//Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: The Nashville Sound//Hurray for the Riff Raff: The Navigator//Angaleena Presley: Wrangled//Erlend Ropstad: Alt som har hendt//Phoebe Bridgers: Stranger in the Alps//Matttis Kleppen: Bassgitar//Spoon: Hot Thoughts//Zephania Ohora: This Highway//Tønes: Sesong 4//Esmerine: Mechanics of Dominion//King Krule: The Ooz//

Topp 100 Låter

Hele spillelista hører du her

Father John Misty: Pure Comedy

JAY-Z: The Story of O.J.

Kendrick Lamar: HUMBLE.

Shabazz Palaces: Shine a Light (feat. Thaddillac)

Grizzly Bear: Four Cypresses

Drake: Passionfruit

Ezra Furman: Driving Down to L.A.

Hurray For the Riff Raff: Pa’lante

Harry Styles: Sign of the Times

Thundercat feat. Michael McDonald & Kenny Loggins: Show You the Way

~~~Bubbling below~~~
Frank Ocean: Chanel
Cende: What I Want
Ariel Pink: Another Weekend
Fleet Foxes: -Naiads, Cassadies
Girl Ray: Stupid Things
Posse: Keep Me Awake
Washed Out: Get Lost
Kevin Morby: City Music
Phoebe Bridgers: Funeral
The Dream Syndicate: How Did I Find Myself Here

Kendrick Lamar: The Heart Part 4
Faux Ferocious: Me and Johnny
Peter Perrett: Living in My Head
This is the Kit: Bullet Proof
Michael Nau: Big Wind No Sail
Future feat. Kendrick Lamar: Mask Off (Remix)
Valerie June: The Front Door
Zephaniah O’Hora: High Class City Girl From the Country
King Krule: Dum Surfer
Thurston Moore: Turn On

The Feelies: Turn Back Time
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: If We Were Vampires
QTY: Michael
Laura Marling: Soothing
Sudan Archives: Come Meh Way
Linda Vidala, KingSkurkOne, OnklP, Kamelen: Bængshot (Remix)
Vic Mensa: Say I Didn’t
Bedouine: One of These Days
Beach Fossils: Down the Line
Gun Outfit: Strange Insistence

Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, Justin Bieber: Despacito (Remix)
J A Y E L E C T R O N I C A: Letter to Falon
Andrew Combs: Rose Colored Blues
Big Sean: Bounce Back
Sampha: (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano
Michael Nau: Big Wind No Sail
The War On Drugs: Thinking of a Place
Manchester Orchestra: The Alien
Miley Cyrus: Malibu
Steven Wilson w/ Ninet Tayeb: Pariah

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard: Tezeta
Gold Star: Come With Me
Kamasi Washington: Truth
Real Estate: Darling
Afghan Whigs: Arabian Heights
Otis Taylor: Walk on Water
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: French Press
Curtis Harding: On and On
Karen Elson: Distant Shores
Mount Eerie: Real Death

Big Thief: Mary
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Rattlesnake
Floating Points: Silurian Blue
Jay Som: The Bus Song
Lizzo: Water Me
Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile: Over Everything
Rodney Crowell: It Ain’t Over Yet
Erlend Ropstad: Det Store Blå
David Ramirez: Twins
Tara Jane O’Neil: Flutter

Milk Music: Crying Wand
Mashrou’Leila: Roman
Mary Epworth: Me Swimming
Kacy & Clayton: Just Like a Summer Cloud
Bing & Ruth: The How of It Sped
Protomartyr: My Children
Saba Abraha: Wicked Ways
Ought: These 3 Things
Pinegrove: Intrepid
Woods: Spring Is in the Air

Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton: Fatal Gift
Selena Gomez: Bad Liar
Vince Staples: BagBak
Algiers: The Underside of Power
Kevin Morby: Baltimore (Sky at Night)
Leikeli47: 2nd Fiddle
Brockhampton: SWEET
Charlotte Gainsbourg: Ring-a-Ring O’ Roses
St. Vincent: New York
Lilly Hiatt: The Night David Bowie Died

Slowdive: Sugar For the Pill
Everything Is Recorded feat. SYD, Sampha: Show Love
Kaleema: Sierra Leona
Colter Wall: Kate McCannon
Tønes: Våkna ny
Jeb Loy Nichols: Come See Me
Sam Gellaitry: Jungle Waters
Julien Baker: Appointments
Sufjan Stevens: Tony Harding (in D Major)
Lambert: In the Dust of Our Days

Year of the Rooster: Retroåret 2017


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Fortiden blir lengre for hvert år. I 2017 har det kommet så mange flotte reutgivelser og samlinger at man nesten ikke trenger å høre på ny musikk. Vel, bare nesten da. Vi har feiret at Bob Seger og Yoko Ono, for å ta to vidt forskjellige artister som eksempel, har kommet på plass i de digitale platehyllene, men aller viktigst var selvsagt at hele katalogen til ECM nå endelig er tilgjengelig i sin fulle bredde. Kvalitetsgarantister som Numero, Strut og Light in the Attic, og vår hjemlige Runde 2, bidrar til å pumpe ut gull fra arkivene, og eldre utgivelser blir til stadighet støvpusset og nylansert. Dette er mine fem favoritter fra retroåret 2017:

Hüsker Dü: Savage Young Dü

Numero er alltid en kvalitetsgaratist, og markerer sitt katalognummer 200 med praktboksen Savage Young Dü der de dokumenterer den tidlige fasen til Hüsker Dü. Her får du 69 låter, derav 47 tidligere uutgitte, som følger Minnesota-trioen fra den spede begynnelsen i 1979 og fram til de signet med SST i 1983. Dette er en viktig og fullverdig dokumentasjon av et band som utviklet seg fra ubehøvlet punkrock til et av de aller mest sentrale bandene i framveksten av den amerikanske undergrunnsscenen. Savage Young Dü høres digitalt, men nytes også i fysisk format i kraft av en massiv og godt illustrert bok.

Lal & Mike Waterson: Bright Phoebus

Nydelig remastering og reutgivelse av et særs vanskelig tilgjengelig album, opprinnelig utgitt i 1972. I tillegg til the Watersons ble innspillingen gjestet av nær sagt halve den britiske folk-scenen på 70-tallet: Martin Carthy, Richard Thompson, Ashley Hutchings, Dave Mattacks, Tim Hart og Maddy Prior er alle med her, på en plate som jevnlig og rettmessig beskrives som ‘a folk-noir masterpiece’.

Neil Young: Hitchhiker

Man blir aldri ferdig med Neil Young. I hvert fall vi som er ekstra glad i den midtre 70-tallskatalogen hans. Hitchhiker har ligget på lager i hans legendariske arkiver altfor lenge, selv om mange av låtene herfra har sivet ut i årenes løp. Sammen med produsent David Briggs gjennomført Young såkalte ‘full moon sessions’ i årene 1975-77, og det er fra en slik kveld disse opptakene stammer fra. Nærmere bestemt 11. august 1976. Sammen med etablerte klassikere som “Pocahontas” og “Powderfinger” dukker også uutgitte “Hawaii” og “Give Me Strength” opp på en skive som bærer med seg den endeløse solnedgangen fra California på 1970-tallet slik bare Neil Young klarer å fange den.

U-Men: s/t
(Sub Pop)

Jeg har så vidt nevnt U-Men her inne tidligere, og nå har jammen meg Sub Pop skrapet sammen hist og hint fra dette oversette bandet fra Seattles pre-grunge periode. Mark Arm (Mudhoney) har skrevet liner notes, og han beskriver dem egentlig bedre enn noen andre: The U-Men are one of the best bands I’ve ever seen. They were hypnotic, frenetic, powerful and compelling. It was impossible to resist getting sucked into their weird, darkly absurd world. They effortlessly blended The Sonics, Link Wray, Pere Ubu, and Captain Beefheart. Their shows were loose-limbed, drunken dance parties and no two shows were alike. The U-Men were avant garage explorers and, most importantly, they fucking rocked.

VA: Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes

Det kommer tonnevis med samleskiver fra hele globusen i løpet av et år, enten det er psykedelisk rock fra Ghana eller strupesang fra Tibet som blir dokumentert. Så mye fet musikk fra alle verdenshjørner og tidsepoker, så liten tid til å sette seg inn i alt. Denne får lov til å representere musikk som ofte blir ignorert, i hvert fall med vestlige øyne. Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes er ikke bare en musikalsk skattekiste, som omfavner funk, Afrobeat, reggae, folk og mer, men også en kulturell dokumentasjon over et land som var – og sikkert er – langt mer enn borgerkrig og flyktninger. Vakker musikk, trist bakteppe.

…best of the rest…
The Replacements: For Sale: Live At Maxwell’s 1986
Drivin ’N’ Cryin’: Mystery Road (Expanded edition)
Buffalo Tom: Let Me Come Over: 25th Anniversary Edition
Throbbing Gristle: 20 Jazz Funk Greats (Remastered)
Fingers Inc.: Another Side
Acetone: 1992-2001
VA: Wayfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares
Jackie Shane: Any Other Way
Mulatu Astatke: Mulatu of Ethiopia

Retroåret i spillelister

Vil du grave litt mer ned i musikk fra fortiden, nær og fjern, så har jeg plukket ut noen anbefalte spillelister på TIDAL laget i 2017, som inkluderer både strømlinjeformet country, punk, psykedelisk soul og frihetsjazz for å nevne noe. Bør være litt for enhver smak, i hvert fall for den som er nysgjerrig på musikk. God fornøyelse!

Murder Ballads: Stories of Misery & Mayhem

Murder ballads have a history that goes back to pre-modern times, with many originating in England and Scotland and written down, printed and sold on broadsheets already in the 17th century as true crime novels of their time. These dark and often grotesque stories have endured during the centuries in their purest form or mutating into something slightly different as they found new life on the other side of the Atlantic with the European settlers. A classic example would be the Appalachian murder ballad “The Knoxville Girl”, which can be derived under various names back to English ballads from the 1500s. But murder is also a frequent topic in American ballads, as Library of Congress states: “Many murder ballads were composed in America, especially after famous murder cases. An example is «Pearl Bryant,» a fictionalized account of the murder of Pearl Bryan in Kentucky in 1896.” This playlist is a collection of some of the most famous Murder Ballads, including “Tom Dooley”, “Stagger Lee” and “In the Pines”, as well as some more recent examples of the genre. [Ill: «Anguish», Albrecht Schenck, public domain]

Rumba on the River: Congolese Classics

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) harbors one of the most varied and vibrant music scenes in Africa, particularly centered on the capital of Kinshasa. Formerly known as Belgian Congo and Zaire, DRC started to develop a pan-Congolese musical identity after World War II with Latin tinged Rumba as the main craze. The formation of the popular and highly influential Le Grand Kallé et l’African Jazz (African Jazz) in the early 1950s turned out to be an important event in terms of shaping a unique musical identity as well as giving voice to a rising national self-confidence. African jazz also introduced African music to Europe, and their «Indépendance Cha Cha» (1960) is commonly considered as one of the first Pan-African hit songs. Congolese rumba (or Soukous) is still an important and integrated part of Congolese music, alongside added inspiration from funk, psychedelia and later hip-hop and electronica. Follow the musical development from colonial to modern times and gives you a glimpse into a highly exciting and energetic music scene.

Country Got Soul

It came out of the south. Centered in the ‘Country-Soul triangle’ of Memphis, Nashville and Muscle Shoals in the 1960s, Country Soul was the merging of country and soul music, bridging two genres sharing so much of the same genealogy. The styles were largely segregated at the time, exacerbated by racial identifications of their respective fanbases, but drew from the same musical lineage of gospel, rhythm & blues and folk. The irresistible and triumphant mixture of country and soul worked in favor of both styles and transcended the ‘musical color line’. This playlist guides you through some classics from the Country Soul triangle and beyond.

Surfin’ the Gutter: L.A. Punk Classics

Los Angeles and its surrounding areas are crucial for the birth and development of US punk music. A social movement of Regan-era misfits grew out of the vast and affluent suburbs of Orange County, California, and spawned the birth of hardcore punk in the late 1970s (Santa Ana’s, The Middle Class, Hermosa Beach’ Black Flag, and others). The Los Angeles punk scene is also closely associated with the birth of the melodic and super catchy pop-punk scene (Bad Religion, Descendents, NOFX), and Southern California is thus to a large extent responsible for the alternative rock explosion of the 1980s and 1990s. Enjoy this selection of vintage SoCal punk classics, including FEAR, The Germs, The Dickies and loads more.

Soft Rainbow Summer: Sunshine Pop

The soft, sweet sounds of Sunshine Pop (or Soft Pop) naturally arose in 1960s Southern California, drawing on several vibes of the era, including folk, psychedelia and easy listening. Characteristics include lush vocals, light arrangements and an overall sunny vibe. Groups like The Beach Boys, The Mamas & the Papas, The Turtles, The Association and the 5th Dimension are commonly considered important influences and popular archetypes of a style more than often populated with lesser-known acts. Sunshine Pop has amassed quite a cult following over the years, highly regarded and saved from obscurity by notorious album collectors from all over the world. Let the sunshine in! (Cover picture: Summer Nomads, Life Magazine August 14, 1970).

Electric Samurais: Japan Inside/Out

Japan boasts an extremely eclectic and wide-ranging music scene with prime artists on every level of the musical scope and beyond. This playlist is by no means an attempt to capture the entire national music identity of Japan, but is merely a glimpse into some of the most exciting, experimental and ethereal music coming out of Japan from the 1960s and onwards. Dig into this collection of gems from naive pop art to pure noise bliss.

Psychedelic Africa: Rainbows Over Sahara

Afro rock, psychedelia and raw funk played an important role in the music scene of many African countries from the 1970s and forward. Zamrock came out of Zambia to characterize a scene that was equally inspired by Jimi Hendrix and James Brown (including bands like Witch, Ngozi Family, Amanaz). Nigeria has a long and rich history, not to mention other West African countries like Benin and Togo, and of course among the Tuareg people of Niger and Mali. This musical journey takes you through some of the many highlights from the psychedelic sounds of Africa.

United Forces: Metal Punx

Metal heads and Punk kids used to squat on separate sides on disgruntled youth. But during the 1980s, the two camps found common ground through numerous crossover acts. This playlist highlights some bands and albums that helped unite metal and punk, tearing down subcultures’ dividing lines and paving way for new directions in hard rock in the years to come. Kicking it off with S.O.D’s «United Forces» as the perfect embodiment, and also including D.R.I, Black Flag, Metal Church and tons more.

Touch & Go: 30 Years of Discomfort

Touch & Go is among the most important independent record labels in alternative rock, not only for being home to 1980s pioneers like Butthole Surfers and Big Black, but also for providing a crucial nationwide network of underground culture. Touch & Go started out in 1979 as a music fanzine based in Lansing, Michigan, before turning into a record label that soon relocated to Chicago. Touch & Go soon enough broadened their hardcore punk roots (Negative Approach, The Meatmen) and expanded into unknown sonic terrain with seminal acts like Scratch Acid, Killdozer, Slint and Urge Overkill, and into the 2000s with bands like Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV on the Radio. Corey Rusk has been in charge of Touch & Go since the early 1980s, and still maintains the label, while now basically handling back catalog. Join in to a trip in the archives and some highlights from a catalog packed with gems, presented more or less in chronological order.

Black Gold of the Sun: Psychedelic Soul Explosion

In the latter part of the 1960s, many soul and R&B artists started to embrace the psychedelic rock sounds of the time, leading to a new and exciting hybrid dubbed Psychedelic Soul. The style turned out to be an inventive and influential musical trend especially for the subsequent birth of funk and disco, which eventually replaced it in mass popularity. Join in for a ride back to the heyday of psychedelic soul and artists like The Temptations, Curtis Mayfield, Shuggie Otis, Sly & the Family Stone, and many others.

Jazz Is Freedom

Jazz is all about freedom from musical boundaries, exploring the unknown and looking ahead. This daring attitude resonates well with the avant-garde jazz pioneers in the 1960s, and on this playlist we pay tribute to just some freedom fighters – from Ornette Coleman and Pharoah Sanders to torchbearers in the modern day.

Wild Rodeo Ride: Cowpunk Classics

Cowpunk was term being used in the 1980s to describe bands that married traditional country and untamed rockabilly energy with a punk attitude. Los Angeles was a particular hotbed of cowpunk, and the scene is a precursor to the wave of the 1990s and what is being called Americana since turn of the century. This playlist gives you a taste of some cowpunk classics, including true pioneers and artists based more in the outskirts of the style.

Countrypolitan: Country Pop

With its blend of string-laden pop, sweet vocal harmonies and sensible country tunes, Countrypolitan followed the Nashville Sound as a hugely popular style throughout the late 1960s and 70s. Here are some radio friendly chartbusters alongside other favorites from the era.

The Nashville Sound

When the honky tonk of the early 1950s turned into rockabilly, the country roads led to a more prop friendly format known as the Nashville Sound. Studio producers Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley helped develop this style, replacing hillbilly instruments with strings and background choruses in an effort to reach the more adult oriented and commercially broader Nashville market. While honky tonk lyrics often dealt with working class issues like alcoholism, failed marriages and adultery, the Nashville Sound offered a more escapist approach both in tone and prose. Enjoy some of the era’s prime material, featuring timeless songs from the likes of Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline and many more. The Nashville Sound would later become known as Countrypolitan, distinguished from the Nashville Sound by even more lush arrangements and softer sounds.

Jazz Got Soul

Soul Jazz developed in the 1950s and is characterized by its mix of jazz, soul, blues, gospel and rhythm & blues, and closely associated with the hard bop style. We’ve picked out some groovy and soulful favorites that fit into this rather open category, including Cannonball Adderley, Lee Morgan, Jimmy Smith and other masters of soulful jazz.

More Sad and Slow Hits

In the early 1990s some bands started to turn inwards, imploding rather than exploding, in direct contrast to the prevailing indie/rock and post-grunge hegemony at the time. Terms like ‘slowcore’ and ‘sadcore’ were used to describe such artists that played really slow or really sad music. Or quite often both. Slowcore is not defined by one clear identity, but relates to hushed shoegaze, bleak singers / songwriters and experimental post-rock outfits that all found a common affinity in doing it slow. Press play and be patient.

Memphis Got Soul!

When President Barack Obama paid tribute to Memphis soul in 2013, he called the sound of Soundsville, U.S.A. “A music that, at its core, is about the pain of being alone, the power of human connection and the importance of treating each other right. After all, this is the music that asked us to try a little tenderness. It’s the music that put ‘Mr. Big Stuff’ in his place,” referring to Jean Knight and Otis Redding. Memphis soul grew out of Southern soul in the 1960s, immortalized on labels like Stax, Hi and Goldwax. Commonly described as more sultry and stylish than its origins in Southern soul, Memphis soul was a defining direction until disco changed the scene in the later parts of the ’70s. This is a collection of (mostly) vintage gems from a wonderful period in the history of music.

Intricate Guitars Inventive Rhythms

Math Rock is a term first used in the latter part of the 1980s and 1990s to describe a wave of inventive, new bands more than willing to stretch the limits with rhythmic structures and time signatures. Artists like Bastro, Shellac, Hella and Don Caballero are prime examples on bands shirking complexity in favor of simplicity and angularity in favor of the straight ahead sounds. Math Rock is no strict genre, more likely to be rejected by the ones involved, and is related to post-hardcore and emo as to jazz, prog and punk. The common denominator is their willingness to experiment, their openness for the adventurous and their courageous attitude toward the unknown. We cherish all of these with handpicked delights from just some of the names tied to the sound of intricate guitars and inventive rhythms.

Evil Empire: Lost American Underground 1980-89


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Den musikken man eksponeres for i den mest kritisk påvirkelige fasen av livet, siste halvdel av tenårene, skaper et fundament og gir en holdbarhet som varer livet ut. Uansett hvilke musikalske faser man senere går gjennom vil denne tidens soundtrack være en helt sentral del av ens DNA, like nedbrytbart for nervesenteret som plast eller plutonium for naturen, uansett senere kvalitativ distansering eller direkte avvisning. For noen vil det kanskje være en byrde å bære med seg sitt eget lydspor, noe som nærmest må nytes i all hemmelighet, inntil eventuelle revivals tillater etterlengtet og hemningsløs dyrkelse, for andre vil det være essensielle byggesteiner for livslang musikkglede, ja noe man kan slå om med seg med en viss stolthet.

Etter nesten 10 år med kassetter, og det som etter hvert ble en ganske brukbar samling, begynte jeg som 15-16-åring å kjøpe LP-plater i 1988. I løpet av bare det første året (alle innkjøp er grundig protokollført) var jeg oppe i et tresifret antall, og forholdet til hver og en av disse er nok sterkere enn hele resten av samlingen. Livet ville kanskje tatt en annen kurs, neppe til det bedre, men jeg tror ikke selve forholdet ville vært spesielt annerledes, om jeg hadde brukt større tid av de første aktive platekjøpende årene av mitt liv på Stock, Aitken & Waterman enn Touch & Go. Men jeg er veldig glad for at veien førte meg nettopp dit.

Band som R.E.M, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., The Dead Kennedys, Violent Femmes, Giant Sand, The Replacements, The Cramps, Fugazi, The Dream Syndicate, Butthole Surfers, Killdozer, Pixies, Black Flag, Mudhoney, Nirvana… etiketter som SST, Touch & Go, Zippo, Frontier, Slash, Enigma, Alternative Tentacles, Boner, Blast First var tidlig en naturlig integrert del av mitt vokabular. Jeg likte altså spesielt godt disse litt snåle amerikanske bandene som på den tiden tilhørte den alternative delen av musikken. Ikke spesielt avansert eller sært egentlig, i hvert fall hørt med dagens ører, men uansett et stykke unna hovedstrømmen. Denne artikkelen graver litt under disse nå mest etablerte bandene, og retter søkelyset mot noen mindre renommerte navn fra samme omgangskrets og samme periode.


Jeg er ekstra glad i musikk fra den amerikanske undergrunnen, siden jeg oppdaget R.E.M og kjøpte Life’s Rich Pageant på klassetur til Bergen i 7. klasse (på Apollon). Verken Springsteen, Maiden eller Metallica kunne måle seg med skeive gitarer, låter uten refreng og dårlige hårsveiser. Det åpnet for et livslangt forhold som på den tiden lett kunne ivaretas, ikke bare i Oslos rike flora av platedealere, men også på en liten plass som Lillehammer, som på sitt beste hadde ikke mindre enn fire høyst oppegående platebutikker med kompetent betjening – og jevnlig oppdaterte importavdelinger – på en liten stripe: Rilla platebar (senere Basement), EzyRyder, bokcaféen Detteerikkenhundeterenulv og Innova. For en luksus!

Jeg har som sagt vært heldig, ikke bare for at jeg falt inn på en vei som på mange vis var musikkpolitisk kul, men som også har vært en konstant kime til nye oppdagelser og som alltid har vært et solid fundament i bunn å vende tilbake til. Senere musikalske smell har slått vel så hardt. Velvet Underground. Can og krautrocken. Coltrane, Miles og jazzen. Nick Drake. Eksperimentell metal og Americana. Og så mye, mye mer. Men denne listen handler ikke om disse oppdagelsene. Dette er en fordypelse inn i ungdommens velsignelse og evige forbannelse. Her er 20 overflødighetshorn fra den amerikanske undergrunnen som du kanskje aldri har hørt om – eller visste at du savnet. Your loss.

For en mer opplagt rundreise inn i samme tema, anbefales denne lista med 20 favoritter fra Amerikansk undergrunn 1980-89 med størrelser som Pixies, The Replacements, Violent Femmes og flere.


human_switchboard_240Human Switchboard: Who’s Landing In My Hangar?
(Faulty Products, 1981)

To band svever i skyggene til Human Switchboard: Pere Ubu og Yo La Tengo tilhører begge utkantene av deres univers, siden de jobbet med både David Thomas og Dave Schramm i løpet av sin korte karriere. Og det er heller ikke unaturlig å trekke en musikalsk linje mellom disse to og plassere Human Switchboard et eller annet sted på midten.

Deres skeive og sjarmerende skranglepop domineres av off-beat melodier, framtredende Farfisa og denne litt nervøse, corky tilstedeværelsen som de delte med samtidige likesinnede som The Feelies, Violent Femmes og Talking Heads (Funkadelic/Talking Heads keyboardist Bennie Worrell bidrar for øvrig på et spor her).

Cleveland-bandet skaffet seg en viss fanskare rundt hjemtraktene i Midtvesten og på klubbene langs østkysten, spesielt i New York, og deres fanbase inkluderte visstnok både Beastie Boys og flanell-rockere som Mark Lanegan, Chris Cornell og Kurt Cobain. Sistnevnte skal ha omtalt ”Refrigator Door” som ‘the Stairway of Heaven on punk’.


Deres første og eneste studioalbum ble Who’s Landing In My Hangar? (utgitt på en side-etikett av I.R.S), og er en oppvisning i rytmisk, utadvendt new wave/post-punk som i dag bærer en glans av fordums nostalgi – et sted mellom Blondie og Velvet Underground – uten at den har falmet altfor mye. Det saxy åpningssporet ”(Say No To) Saturday’s Girl” er en glitrende inngangsport til Human Switchboard og hadde selvsagt blitt en instant radiohit i en mer rettferdig verden.

Fun fact: Bob Pfeifer forlot musikken til ’fordel’ for musikkbransjen, seilte opp som A&R-boss i Epic, og på midten av 1990-tallet ble han faktisk president i Disney-eide Hollywood Records. Han fikk sparken et par år senere da styret oppdaget at han på rekordkort tid hadde kostet selskapet $150 millioner. I 2006 havnet han igjen i medienes søkelys – og i fengsel – for en mye omtalt avlytningsskandale. Han skulle kanskje holdt seg til jangle-popen.

hypnotics_indoor_240Hypnotics: Indoor Fiends
(Enigma, 1982)

Hypnotics er i det store og hele et fullstendig glemt band i dag. Og de var vel ikke spesielt renommerte i sin tid heller. Men, det er aldri for sent, og dette er et ganske underholdende album.

Hypnotics dro med seg røttene fra down and out LA-punk og forespeilet den kommende hardcore-bølgen fra Long Beach og South Bay-området. Stilmessig kan de nok sammenlignes med f.eks Circle Jerks og Angry Samoans. Enkelte nerder vil kanskje gjenkjenne bandnavnet fra den smått legendariske samleren American Youth Report (1982), der de spilte side om side med mer etablerte størrelser som Bad Religion, Descendents, TSOL og Redd Kross.

Indoor Fiends er både en debut og en svanesang for et band som aldri rakk å skrive seg inn i historiebøkene, men som like fullt tilhører den tidlige kretsen som definerte punken i sørlige California.


Hypnotics byr på snerrende og oppsetsig punkrock anført av vokalist Marky De Sade, framtredende keyboards og provoserende titler som ”Nazi Snotzy”, ”Kiddie Porn”, ”Celebrity Killer” og kanskje deres mest kjente to minutter: ”Weird People”. Ta en lytt:

Indoor Fiends er ikke spesielt lett å få fatt på i originalpressingen, men den er i hvert fall å finne på CD sammen med deres knapt utgitte andrealbum Expendables – som i hvert fall er umulig å finne – som fikk den helt passende tittelen Everyone Gets Their Nanosecond of Fame.

necros_conquest_240Necros: Conquest For Death
(Touch & Go, 1983)

Mye av grunnlaget for hele min platesamling – og spesielt denne lista her – tilfaller Corey Rusk. Sammen med Tesco Vee fra The Meatmen etablerte han Touch & Go som jo ble et svært så viktig  plateselskap utover på 1980-tallet. De var først basert som en fanzine i Lansing, Michigan, senere relokalisert til Chicago, og står ansvarlig for utgivelser med sjangerdefinerende band som Killdozer, Butthole Surfers, Die Kreuzen, Big Black, Didjits og utallige andre. Kvalitetsstempelet fra pionertiden hold det i hevd helt til det siste, men for min del er det særlig utgivelsene fra det første tiåret som står sterkest i bevisstheten.

Men før Corey Rusk tok over hele sjappa og fokuserte fullt på Touch & Go, var han med i Necros. De ble opprinnelig dannet på slutten av 70-tallet i Toledo-forstaden Maumee, og er allment anerkjent som et av de opprinnelige amerikanske hardcore-punk bandene, rått og slarkete som de var, og med en dæsj metal i miksen. Vokalist Barry Henssler (senere i SubPop-bandet Big Chief) sier i boken American Hardcore (Steven Blush): ”What I thought Necros were always trying to do was to have the Nugent rock vibe. One of the last Rock records I bought was Nugent’s Double Live Gonzo. I remember thinking: ’If this was ten times faster, I’d really like it’.”

Necros knyttet også sterke bånd mellom punkscenen i Midtvesten og harDCore-scenen i Washington DC, en allianse på utsiden av musikalske sentra som New York og Los Angeles, der band som Teen Idles, Government Issue og Minor Threat begynte å gjøre seg bemerket. Henssler sier i overnenvte bok: ”With us, if someone was friendly, we were friendly back… just a Midwest thing. I got into punk to get away from snobs – not to become a snob. They were rich DC kids and we were Midwestern bumpkins who didn’t summer in Martha’s Vineyard. I thought that if you aligned with this specific lifestyle, it meant dropping all the bullshit from the lifestyle you left.”


Conquest for Death er en ren energibombe, tettpakket med autentisk råskap, snobbefri glød og pur fandenivoldskhet som ble skoledannende for så mange band i deres kjølevann. Sjekk ut “Police Brutality”, “Search For Fame” eller “Satisfy” som står igjen som noen av høydepunktene på debuten.

100_flowers_240100 Flowers: 100 Flowers
(Happy Squid, 1983)

Røttene til 100 Flowers er å finne i fantastiske og marginalt mer kjente Urinals. De eksisterte i tre korte år – fra 1978 til 1981 – og utga kun en håndfull singler/EP’er i løpet av sin karriere. Deres innflytelse på undergrunnsscenen utover på 80-tallet kan likevel ikke undervurderes, med band som Minutemen og Mission of Burma som et par opplagte arvtakere. Deres låter har også senere blitt tolket av blant andre Yo La Tengo, Gun Club og No Age.

Urinals hylles gjerne for sin minimalistiske, nedstrippede stil, men deres effektive togrepslåter (eller helst bare ett) og tilknappede tekster hadde sin naturlige forklaring: Medlemmene, alle studenter på UCLA i California, startet prosjektet uten musikalsk bakgrunn i det hele tatt, ja mest som en ren parodi på populærkulturen og punkrocken. De ville skrive så korte og enkle låter at de kunne bli spilt av alle. Forsøket var likevel så morsomt at de bestemte seg for å kjøre på, og Urinals ble raskt en del av punkscenen i California der de delte scene med blant andre Black Flag og Circle Jerks. Etter tre år var de såpass drevne at Urinals-konseptet hadde utspilt sin rolle. Da endret de også navn til mer ‘seriøse’ 100 Flowers, sikkert oppkalt etter Maos kortvarige håndsrekning til landets liberale. Musikalsk avanserte de også opp et lite hakk eller to, uten at det akkurat ble prog-tendenser over bandet.

100 Flowers ble deres eneste fullengder (gitarist John Talley-Jones forsvant senere til SST-bandet Trotsky Icepick), og er en oppvisning innen post-punk – spesielt den britiske varianten av typen Wire, The Fall og Alternative TV, funky hardcore og proto Paisley Underground, denne jangly indierocken som ble definert av andre samtidige LA-band som The Rain Parade og The Dream Syndicate, på et semi-klassisk 80-tallsalbum som fremdeles er ganske morsomt å høre på, om enn noe ufullendt.

fus_america_240F.U.’s: My America
(X-Claim, 1983)

F.U.’s var en hardcore-bande fra Boston, som først gjorde seg bemerket utenfor byens grenser med sine bidrag på den definerende samleren This Is Boston, Not L.A. sammen med blant andre Gang Green og Jerrys Kids. Boston var en by med en brennhet scene i de dager, som også inkluderte SS Decontrol (SSD), Negative FX og DYS – en punk-by med klar politisk agenda, der Straight Edge og venstrepolitiske standpunkter stod sentralt. Velkommen til F.U.’s, som med sitt ultra-patriotiske epos My America både frydet og forvirret. Omslaget viser et mektig og erke-amerikansk landskap, baksiden viser bandet ved en pick-up i tømmerskjorter og jaktrifler, humrende med jakttrofeet liggende foran seg: To snauklipte skatere. En annen versjon viser General Patton poserende med det amerikanske flagget.

Tim Yohannan i Maximum Rocknroll, for mange en rettesnor for hva som var musikalsk og politisk korrekt, sablet ned bandet for sitt patriotiske budskap. Han hyllet musikken som ‘storms out detonating gusts of energetic exertion, wild euphoria flailing in rapid determination waiting to explode’, men tekstene ‘tread a fine line between obnoxious satire and mindless reaction’. Yohannan fastslo at ‘after conducting an interview with them in which they stated ‘America Rules’ in all seriousness, adding that immigrants entered the U.S. because they were ‘too dumb to run their own governments’, it’s all too apparent that theirs is a regressive mentality better suited to fraternity jocks than so-called punks.’


De bevegde seg utvilsomt et eller annet sted langs satirens tynne line, ganske fjernt fra sine samtidige i Bostons hardcore-kretser, men My America er uansett 16 intense minutter, godt oppsummert av AllMusic som ‘caffeine-overdose tempos that nearly collapse on every track, ultracheap static buzz production, and cigarette-hoarse mob choruses.’

F.U.’s er for øvrig udødeliggjort av Dead Milkmen i deres smått legendariske harselas ”Tiny Town”: ’We hate blacks and we hate jews and we hate punks – but we love the F.U.’s.’

man_sized_action_claus_240Man Sized Action: Claustrophobia
(Reflex, 1983)

Bob Mould er selvsagt best kjent som frontmann i Hüsker Dü, Sugar og som soloartist. Mindre kjent er det kanskje at han sammen med de andre medlemmene i Hüsker Dü promoterte lokal hardcore og post-punk fra Minnesota og Midtvesten med plateselskapet Reflex.

Blant bandene som utga skiver på Reflex finner vi godsaker som Rifle Sport, Articles of Faith – og Man Sized Action. Claustrophobia er deres debutalbum, som også er produsert Bob Mould selv i klassisk syltynn post-punk ånd. Steve Albini intervjuet bandet for Matter fanzine i 1984, i forbindelse med deres oppfølgeralbum Five Storey Garage som i og for seg har både bedre låter og fetere produksjon enn debuten. Etter en lengre rant om klimaet og det dårlige været i Minnesota, beskriver Albini deres debutplate i ganske treffende ordelag:

The record was raw and thin, and lacked both the depth and the punch of MSA live, but the songs came through. Huge killer songs with balls as big as houses treading the water between Mekons/Fall-styled practiced amateurishness and Joy Division/Wire-styled controlled creepiness.

Etter Claustrophobia fikk bandet med seg Brian Paulson på gitar, mannen som etter hvert spilte med David Grubbs i Bastro og ble en høyt respektert lydtekniker og produsent, og senere har jobbet med Slint, Beck, Dinosaur Jr, Archers of Loaf og utallige andre.

Det var et stort pluss for Man Sized Action, for mannen kunne faktisk spille. I følge Albini: ”It’s different for MSA now. They can play. Like motherfuckers.”

Men flere plater kom aldri. Ta med deg begge, om du skal være så heldig å slumpe over dem.

dumptruckDumptruck: D Is For Dumptruck
(Incas, 1983)

Dumptruck er det kvintessensielle amerikanske collegerock-bandet, både i musikalsk stil og med sin uheldige erfaring med musikkbransjen.

Med sin intellektuelle blanding av angstfull britisk post-punk, velfunderte vokalharmonier og gitar-jangly optimisme står Dumptruck i par med band som Guadalcanal Diary, The db’s, Game Theory og ikke minst R.E.M, tidlig i karrieren kan også Velvet, Television og The Feelies nevnes som retningspunkter. Men våre venner har urettferdig nok blitt glemt når historien om amerikansk undergrunnsrock skrives. Selv om de var kritikerroste college-darlings i sin tid.

Boston-bandet ga ut tre feiende flotter skiver på 80-tallet, debuten D Is for Dumptruck (1983), Positively Dumptruck (1986) og kraftig underkjente for the Country (1987). D Is for Dumptruck er deres mest uflidde langspiller, men med den uimotståelig naivistiske sjarmen som hører med til en slik egenutgitt produksjon av et band i den idealistiske tidlige fasen av sin karriere.

(”Back to Where I Belong” er åpningssporet fra Positively Dumptruck)

Bandets kjerne var de to habile låtskriverne Seth Tiven og Kirk Swan, begge fra Connecticut, som møttes i Boston tidlig på 1980-tallet. Etter en vellykket debut fikk de tilbud fra flere plateselskap, og slo til med australske Big Time. For den like godt mottatte oppfølgeren fikk de med seg sørstatenes jangle-pop masetro Don Dixon som produsent og satte ut på endeløse og selvutslettende turneer. Friksjonen langs landeveien splittet forholdet mellom Swan og Tiven, men sistnevnte aktet å fullføre avtalen med Big Time, stablet på beina et nytt orkester og dro til Wales for å spille inn sitt tredje album sammen med den drevne produsenten Hugh Jones (Echo & the Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, Icicle Works). Med eneansvar for låtene denne gangen, er for the Country deres mest helhetlige plate, der desillusjonert lyrikk møter blendende låter i et velfundert, folkbasert lydbilde. Et klassisk album som burde ført Dumptruck opp i elitedivisjonen.

Men her begynner de virkelige problemene i det som er en klassisk leksjon i indiemusikkens skyggeside.

Big Time var på vei til å gå dukken omtrent samtidig med at for the Country skulle lanseres. Dumptruck så lite til pengene som skulle dekke kostnadene for plateinnspillingen, ei heller ble den promotert eller mulig å finne i butikkene. De dro likevel ut på veien for å backe utgivelsen, utvilsomt i relativt lunkent humør, men i California så lykken endelig ut til å stå dem bi, da Phonogram Records meldte sin interesse og lokket med et sekssifret beløp. Kurt Hernon fra Perfect Sound Forever har beskrevet i detalj det som så skjedde:

While in Los Angeles, Tiven was called into the Big Time offices (he had recently learned of the Phonogram deal himself). It was explained to him that a small contractual ‘detail’ had been overlooked recently – Big Time had missed the date to pick up the option on Dumptruck – and that it would be simple, with Tiven’s help, to iron out this small misstep. Seth, seeing an opportunity to leave Big Time and move his band forward, said that he would have to ‘talk to the band’. More like, talk to his lawyer. Dumptruck’s lawyer confirmed for Tiven that Big Time’s «misstep» did indeed free the band from contractual obligation to the sinking label, and that they were free to pursue a relationship with Phonogram themselves. So they did.

Big Time looked foolish. Negotiating a deal with another label for a band that wasn’t even under contract is a bad business move, not to mention embarrassing as hell. And it is made even worse when your business is dying. But, Big Time decided it was not going to die alone. They would take Dumptruck with them. Big Time Records filed a frivolous breech of (non-existent) contract suit and sued Dumptruck for five million dollars. 5 Million dollars!

The lawsuit did what Big Time apparently wanted it to do: it gave Phonogram and other interested labels five million reasons to never speak to Dumptruck again. Drifting, Tiven and the band set out on the eternal tour. Three years of playing to pay legal bills, three years without recording, three years in which to slip out of the collective short-term memories of the public, and three years to wonder what the fuck they did to deserve this.

Eventually, the Big Time suit was dismissed after the labels’ lawyers failed to appear at any of three hearings. Furthermore, Dumptruck won control over their master recordings and received a two hundred fifty thousand-dollar judgement for damages. It sounded good, but, as is the Dumptruck luck, the band only saw about a thousand dollars of their winnings, and to top it off, RCA records put a lien on the Dumptruck master tapes for money owed them by the now defunct Big Time Records.

Having won nothing and lost nearly everything, Tiven and Dumptruck forged on with what was always most important – the music. It would be eight years until any new Dumptruck music saw the light of day.

Utrolig nok kom altså Seth Tiven seg gjennom dette, fant igjen tonen med Kirk Swan og vekket Dumptruck til live igjen. De spiller fremdeles på en liten klubb et stykke unna deg, og utga et par fine album på 90- og 00-tallet. Start med debuten, men sørg for å jobbe deg gjennom hele deres katalog. Det bør være en lystbetont oppgave, tross alt.

The Steppes: s/t
(Mystic, 1984)

Det er ikke altfor mye som er skrevet og sagt om dette bandet her. Kanskje like greit da, at de lar Melody Maker beskrive hva du kan vente på forsiden av coveret til det som er en aldeles fantastisk mini LP: ’David and John write songs that hit you hard, that hit them hard…. Think Weller, think of Dylan and Lennon… Fragments, jagged corners gelling into a suprisingly cohesive whole.’ John og David er brødrene Fallon, vokalister, låtskrivere og frontfigurer i kriminelt underkjente The Steppes.

The Steppes omtales gjerne som et irsk-amerikansk band, da familien Fallon kom fra Irland og bosatte seg i Chicago, og våre to brødre vokste opp både i statene og i England. Tidlig på 1980-tallet fant de veien til Los Angeles, og en spirende scene som lånte inspirasjon fra 60-tallsrock og psykedelia: Band som The Rain Parade, The Dream Syndicate, The Long Ryders og Tucson-bandet Green On Red tilhørte alle samme miljø, og var også en college-rock krets The Steppes også til en viss grad sirkulerte.

Brødrende Fallon startet først et band som kalte seg Blue Macs (og som omtalte sitat fra Melody Maker egentlig var myntet på), før de restrukturerte seg som The Steppes. Med åpenbar inspirasjon fra The Beatles, Stones, The Who, The Kinks, T-Rex, men også nyere band som The Jam og Undertones, fikk de deal med Mystic Records, den mytiske Hollywood-etiketten til Doug Moody som ble mest kjent for å gi oss punk og hardcore fra sør-California. Debuten la grunnlaget for en karriere som aldri skulle vekke veldig stor oppmerksomhet, men som har en trofast kultskare – spesielt her i Europa. Bandet skulle på senere album, jeg er spesielt svak for Harps & Hammers fra 1990, dykke ned i mørkere psykedelia, men når jeg vil høre The Steppes er det låter som ”Kathy Maguire” og ”I Think I’ll Go” fra den selvtitulerte debuten jeg helst vender tilbake til.

For et band som i høy grad har vendt det musikalske blikket bakover i tid, og på en plate som har rukket å bikke 30 år, er det slående hvor tidløst sound The Steppes faktisk har – og hvor slitesterke låter brødrene Fallon trillet ut av ermet. Synd at ikke flere fikk øynene opp for dem den gang da.

fang_wild_things_240Fang: Where the Wild Things Are
(Boner, 1984)

Boner Records ga ut noen av de mest særegne platene med uttafor-rock på seint 80- og tidlig 90-tall, der svært mange fant veien til mine platehyller gjennom band som Melvins, Steel Pole Bath Tub, Fearless Iranians From Hell, Superconductor, Ed Hall og Warlock Pinchers. Mannen som grunnla herligheten i Berkely, California var Tom Flynn og han hadde en fortid i underkjente og urettferdig obskure Fang.

Fang var Bay Area punks som først gjorde seg bemerket i 1982 på den essensielle samleren Not So Quiet on the Western Front med ”Fun With Acid”. De fulgte opp året etter med EP’en Landshark, der låter som ”Skinheads Smoke Dope” og ”Destroy the Handicapped” satte standarden. Året etter kom Where the Wild Things Are som i hovedsak fulgte det samme sporet. Med sin søplete og skranglete punkrock var Fang talsmenn for et mer nihilistisk livssyn enn de fleste. ”Everybody Makes Me Barf” er en klassiker, og selv liberale Berkley fikk gjennomgå på låter som ”Berkeley Heathen Scum”. Fang på plate kan med dagens ører sikkert høres ganske spinkelt ut, men det er en ubehøvlet holdning og råtten energi som fremdeles skinner i disse støvete rillene.

Fang var ikke bare helt sentrale innen tidlig hardcore punk, men også en viktig innflytelse for en del rockeband lengre nord som sugde til seg innflytelse fra ulike subkulturer. Landshark ble senere kjent som et av Kurt Cobains favorittskiver, og både Nirvana og Mudhoney har senere covret Fangs mest kjente øyeblikk, ”The Money Will Roll Right In”. Et knurrende anthem med sympatiske tekstlinjer som:

I’m going to Hollywood, they’ll see that I’m so good
I won’t care how I feel, and I’ll get to fuck Brooke Shields
I’ll just sit and grin, the money will roll right in


Et band som både Green Day og Metallica har løftet fram gjennom sine hyllester hadde fortjent en bedre skjebne enn å havne i glemselens dal. Landshark høres digitalt, og er også utgitt sammen med Where the Wild Things Are på CD for den som ikke gidder å bruke altfor mye penger på LP’ene.

Not so fun fact: Vokalist Sam McBride levde ikke helt opp til låta ”Fun With Acid” da han kvelte kona etter en real heroinkule i 1989. 11 år bak lås og slå satte bandet naturlig nok en del tilbake, men utrolig nok blåste han nytt liv i Fang da han slapp ut igjen.

crucifucksThe Crucifucks: s/t
(Alternative Tentacles, 1984)

Lansing er kanskje hovedstaden i Michigan, men noen musikkhovedstad kan den ikke påberope seg å være. Igjen kan vi takke Black Flag og deres utrettelige turnévirksomhet for at ting begynte å skje. Det var i hvert på en av deres konserter i byen, i 1980, at Doc Corbin Dart, allerede 28 år på den tiden, møtte Scott Begerston og Steve Shelley (senere kjent fra Sonic Youth), som ble kjernen i The Crucifucks.

Sammen med sine likesinnede i The Meatmen, også de fra Lansing, ble Crucifucks kjent som et utagerende og konfronterende liveband rundt om i Michigan. Men virkelig fart i sakene ble det ikke før de møtte Jello Biafra og The Dead Kennedys et par år senere. Biafra tilbød bandet kontrakt på hans Alternative Tentacles, og den beintøffe og selvtitulerte debuten så dagens lys i 1984.

The Crucifucks hørtes ikke ut som noen andre i sin tid, og ingen har vel kopiert dem i ettertiden heller. Det skyldes selvsagt vokalist Doc Corbin Darts high pitch squeals i en slags frenetisk, helium-aktig desperasjon. Et annet sentralt aspekt med The Crucifucks, er deres nådeløse, intelligente og skarpe humoristiske angrep på øvrigheta.

Doc Corbin Dart og hans Crucifucks – ”the greatest threat to American democracy since communism” – la ikke mye mellom når det kom til styre og stell. En låt som ”Cops For Fertilizer” var ikke bare nedlatende mot ordensmakten, sedvanlig i punk-tradisjonen, men hadde følgende slagkraftige refreng:

So let’s kill the fucking pigs
If they get in our way.
It’ll set a good example
For the children today.
It’ll keep kids out of trouble
Shooting pigs after school.
Wasting cops will be the
Hero’s golden rule

En annen låt er ”Hinckley Has a Vision”, der mannen som forsøkte å drepe Ronald Reagan får full støtte:

I wanna take the president
Chop off his head
And mail it to them in a garbage bag

Åpningssporet bør også nevnes, klassikeren ”Democracy Spawns Bad Taste” og referenget:

Be a good American – fuck off!
Be a good American – go to war!
Be a good fearing citizen and kill someone OR

The Crucifucks fulgte opp med mer komplekse Wisconsin i 1987, også det en personlig favoritt. Når det gjelder Dart så utga han det hjerteskjærende soloalbumet Patricia i 1990, men jeg tror han etter hvert har mistet forstanden. Han har i hvert fall benektet fortiden, tatt avstand fra banning, unngår nyheter, tatt artistnavnet 26 og erklært at han er messias.


Fun fact: Grandonkelen til Doc Corbin Dart grunnla Dart Corporation, som er verdens største produsent av kaffelokk. Selv kommer han fra en lang linje av meget velstående bankmenn, med så kule navn at de bare må nevnes: Han er altså sønn av Rollin Dart og barnebarn av Doc Campbell Dart, og det er å anta at en gang unge lovende Doc Corbin var tiltenkt en plass som den neste i rekkefølgen – men at de planene for lengst er omrockert.

Vice har for øvrig et fantastisk hjemme-hos intervju med Doc Corbin Dart, publisert i 2008 og som anbefales på det varmeste. I likhet med hans plater.

agent_orange_240Agent Orange: This is the Voice
(Enigma, 1986)

Radio-DJ Rodney Bingenheimer er en levende institusjon i amerikansk rock, en slags flamboyant utgave av John Peel, også omtalt som The Mayor of Sunset Strip (eller ’the where’s Waldo of rock’), som i en mannsalder har spilt plater for KROQ i Los Angeles. Han var blant de første som spilte punk og new wave på amerikansk radio, og i 1980 stod han bak samleskiva Rodney on the Roq (på Posh Boy), med blant andre Adolescents, Circle Jerks, Black Flag – og Agent Orange.

Med signaturlåta ”Bloodstains” (den som The Offspring senere ble beskyldt for å plagiere med megahiten ”Come Out and Play”) og det påfølgende debutalbumet Living in Darkness (1981) markerte Agent Orange seg umiddelbart som en anomali i Californias punk-scene under ledelse av frontmann Mike Palm.

Det sørlige California og spesielt Orange County utenfor Los Angeles står i en helt spesiell posisjon som arnested for hardcore punk (Middle Class, Black Flag, Social Distortion) og ulike varianter av pop-punk (Descendents, NOFX. Bad Religion). Det er tydeligvis noe med perfekt klima, mye penger og konservativt suburbia som vekker motstandsfølelsen hos ungdom.

Men Agent Orange var allerede fra starten av litt vanskeligere å plassere enn sine samtidige, med en effektiv miks av hardcore, skatepunk, catchy pop-tunes, thrasha riff og elementer av psych og surf, og med Mike Palms karakteristisk tilbakeholdne vokalstil ikke ulikt Greg Graffin (Bad Religion) eller til og med Mike Muir (Suicidal Tendencies) på sitt mest melodiøse, som naturlig midpunkt.


Deres debutalbum er en klassiker, men jeg vil trekke fram den litt underkjente oppfølgeren, This Is the Voice fra 1986. Det tok noen år, og Agent Orange hadde i løpet av tiden fjernet seg et godt stykke fra den opprinnelige punk-estetikken, der bandets potente energi heller støter mot en mer gloomy & doomy stil av goth-mod, mer introvert og psycha, og der fraværet av en mer dynamisk produksjon nesten sparker beina unna de sterke låtene. Men bare nesten.

The Windbreakers: Run
(DB Records, 1986)

“Think of them as a genteel Replacements with 12-string guitar, or an R.E.M with clear melodies and lyrics.” (Los Angeles Herald Examiner)

På midten av 80-tallet flommet det over av nye band med blikket vendt mot 60-tallets liflige gitarklanger, flerstemte koring, lettere psykedeliske overtoner og artister som The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Flamin’ Groovies og Big Star som rettesnor. Mange av disse collegerock-pionerene hadde base i musikkbyer som Athens, Georgia (R.E.M.), Austin (The Reivers) eller Los Angeles (The Rain Parade, The Long Ryders).

The Windbreakers derimot kom fra Jackson, Mississippi og var sentrert rundt duoen Tim Lee og Bobby Sutliff. Med den glitrende albumdebuten Terminal (1985) fikk de bistand fra jangle-pop pionerene Mitch Easter, kjent fra Let’s Active og ikke minst som produsent for R.E.M., og Don Dixon (R.E.M, Guadalcanal Diary, Dumptruck og en drøss andre) som bidro til å befeste deres posisjon som kvalitetsleverandør av sørstatslydende powerpop.

Den enkleste måten å bli kjent med The Windbreakers på er den fine samleren Time Machine som gir et representativ sveip over årene 1982-2002, med hovedvekt på 80-tallet. Terminal, Run og A Different Sort (1987) er jevnbyrdige i kvalitet, fra et band som tilsynelatende kunne trille gems ut av ermet hvilken som helst dag i uken. The Windbreakers stod ikke tilbake for noen av bandene i sin tid, der mange gikk videre til fame & fortune, men som deres britiske label Zippo en gang sa om Run: ”Again the U.S press reaction has been distinctly favorable, and also again, the response here has been minimal”. Bandet har eller aldri fått noen revival i ettertid så vidt meg bekjent, og det er en sterkt ufortjent skjebne.

Scratch Acid: s/t
(Rabid Cat, 1986)

Texas har opp gjennom årene fostret mange musikalske outsidere; Roky Erickson & 13th Floor Elevators, The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, Daniel Johnston og Jandek er bare noen eksempler på Texas-artister som definitivt ikke svømte medstrøms. Statens konservative politiske og kulturelle rammer gir tydeligvis grobunn for ekstreme motreaksjoner, og i punkens dager kom band som Big Boys og Dicks som herlige normbrytere. I kjølevannet av disse, finner vi selvsagt San Antonios store helter Butthole Surfers, Fearless Iranians From Hell, Hickoids – og mange andre.

Austin har bestandig vært en kulturell oase i Texas, og en by der det å være annerledes ikke bare blir anerkjent men er noe som byen framhever som sin styrke. Et av de tidlige plateselskapene innen American Underground er Austins Rabid Cat, som ga oss flotte band som Offenders, Texas Instruments, Happy World – og ikke minst Scratch Acid.

Scratch Acid tok form tidlig på 1980-tallet, og er nok best kjent for at to av medlemmene, David Yow og David Wm. Sims, senere formet innflytelsesrike og mer kjente The Jesus Lizard (de to andre medlemmene var Brett Bradford og trommis Rey Washam fra Big Boys – Washam og Sims ble for øvrig også med i Steve Albinis kortlevde prosjekt Rapeman). Bandene deler mye av det samme musikalske uttrykket; down & out søplete og støyende bluespunk, ikke så helt ulikt The Cramps eller det Nick Cave holdt på med i The Birthday Party og i sin tidlige solokarriere. Låter som ”Cannibal”, ”Monsters” og ”Greatest Gift” er manisk panikkrock fra et mentalt grenseland. Scratch Acid må også nevnes som et viktig band for Seattle-rocken, med både Kurt Cobain og Soundgarden blant fanskaren.

Og hva er ’the greatest gift of all’? La oss like gjerne gjengi hele teksten som egentlig forklarer musikken bedre enn noe annet:

Garden of buried pleasures
Neatly in a row
Are planted life’s true secrets
In a world yet still unknown

Six feet deep down dark
Free from concern
The greatest gift
From life itself
Lies the food for the worms

Lystig gjeng!

Moving Targets:
Burning In Water (Taang!, 1986)

Boston-området har en rik musikkhistorie litt i skyggen av sin storebrorby noe lenger sør. På 80-tallet vokste det fram en sterk hardcore-scene her med band som SS Decontrol, Jerry’s Kids, Gang Green og The F.U.’s blant de mest førende [se F.U.’s: My America litt lenger opp]. Men byen fostret også band som tok med seg mye av denne energien over i et mer melodisk og mer ‘alternativt’ landskap, som Mission of Burma, The Lemonheads, Buffalo Tom, Volcano Suns, Dinosaur Jr, Bullet LaVolta – og Moving Targets.

Dannet i North Shore-området utenfor Boston tidlig på 1980-tallet, og med Ken Chambers som mest sentrale medlem, er Moving Targets et skrekkelig oversett band som i årene 1986-1993 ga ut fire veldig bra album. Debuten Burning In Water står seg fremdeles som en post-punk-påle. Moving Targets hadde røtter i hardcore punk, men hadde utviklet et åpenbart musikalsk slektskap til både Mission of Burman og Hüsker Dü, som på dette tidspunktet førte an og viste nye veier ut av hardcorens begrensninger (Zen Arcade var nylig sluppet, New Day Rising kom omtrent samtidig som denne). Moving Targets delte dette vidsynet, der gnistrende låtskriving og et ustoppelig driv danner et bunnsolid fundament og som like uanstrengt lente seg mot jangly folkrock (á la R.E.M) som luftig Californisk pop-punk og harDCore.

Jeg googlet omtalen på All Music Guide mens jeg hørte gjennom skiva på nytt, og den var særdeles velskrevet og grundig, og faktisk forfattet av ingen ringere enn Bill Janovitz fra Buffalo Tom. Han skriver blant annet: ”This trio was their best lineup, a magic version of the band. Every song here is an anthem, and perhaps that could be listed as a fault for some folks. Even as the tone of the album moves to a darker minor-key tone, approaching drone and dissonance at times, the songs feature martial snare rolls, and pummeling, fat AC/DC-like guitar chords and, above all, melody. The material is well-arranged, with little filler; while some songs feature a multitude of often intricate sections (intro, verse, chorus, bridge, outro, and so on), none reach the four-minute mark – a discipline gleaned from the lean, fast rules approach of hardcore.”

Burning in Water er fri for dødpunkter, den har ingen holdbarhetsdato, og den har ikke mistet en tøddel av energien som den en gang ble skapt av.

No Trend: Tritonian Nash-Vegas Polyester Complex
(Touch & Go, 1986)

I en grundig og velskrevet gjennomgang av historien til No Trend i Vinyl District i 2013 skriver Michael H. Little: «If you were a fan of the previous No Trend album, it was virtually guaranteed that you would listen to the new one and say, “What is this shit?” Over the course of its career No Trend mutated from an industrial hardcore band that specialized in pissing people off to an absurdist band with no apparent genre boundaries that specialized in, well, pissing people off. It almost seemed as if No Trend was primarily in the No Trend fan elimination business.»

No Trend ble dannet tidlig på 80-tallet i Ashton, Maryland, en forstad mellom Baltimore og DC, med Jeff Mentges og nå avdøde Frank Price i ledende roller. I løpet av en periode på seks år omformet de konstant sitt musikalske uttrykk basert på en felles misnøye mot musikalsk snversyn og ikke minst punkens konforme utvikling, rettet mot både straight edge eller en stadig raskere og mer teknisk orientert form for hardcore. Eller for å si det med Steven Blush i boken American Hardcore: ’They hated everyone and everything’. No Trend mikset sammen en kakofonisk cocktail av thrash-jazz, lounge-metal og countryfunk som lå langt nærmere absurd kunstrock og dadaisme enn sjangertro hardcore.

I nevnte intervju med The Vinyl District sier gitarist Buck Parr: ”The band started off doing something different, it alienated some people, and the band embraced that. As the band developed, it mutated in ways that further confused people. Instead of being apologetic, I think the band generally fed off of this. It was within the band’s DNA to be somewhat contrary.”

Med sin konfronterende stil etterlatte de seg en forvirret floke av fans og et plateselskap som til slutt nektet å følge deres stadig mer kompliserte uttrykk. King Koffey i Butthole Surfers: ”Bands like No Trend, Flipper and ourselves were part of a reaction to Hardcore bands, we were all reacting against how limited it was defining itself. We all though it was so silly how everyone was playing faster and faster. It got so fucking stupid.”

No Trend var langt fra noen idioter. Tvert imot, de var en evig muterende organisme som fulgte sin egen vei. En vei som førte dem til steder der ingen andre har passert verken før eller siden. Slike band finnes bare ikke lengre.

For ytterligere dypdykk kan disse to intervjuene varmt anbefales:
No Trend Didn’t Just Go Against the Grain, They Shoved It in the Faces of the Pretentious Hardcore Fans
No Trend (Yellow Green Red)

Squirrel Bait: Skag Heaven
(Homestead, 1986)

Pre-postrock og før Slint, matterocken og alt som skulle skje senere, satt Squirrel Bait hjemme i Louisville, Kentucky og tegnet opp et kart som svært mange skulle følge og ytterligere utvikle. Selv om de ikke er spesielt godt husket i dag, kan deres innflytelse vanskelig overvurderes innen utviklingen av den alternative rocken utover på 1990-tallet.

Squirrel Bait var en gjeng tenåringer fremdeles på high school som nok kjennes best for sine mer profilerte prosjekter senere i karrieren: David Grubbs (Slint, Bastro, Gastr del Sol), Brian McMahan (Slint, the For Carnation), Britt Walford (Slint, King Kong) for å nevne bare deler av bandets senere tentakler.

Slint er kjent som post-rock-pionerer med briljante Spiderland fra 1991, et landemerke innen alternativ rock. The Guardian: ”In fact, although it sold fewer than 5,000 copies at the time, Spiderland did become a landmark, one that invented an entire genre – post-rock. Generations have grown up in awe of its shifting landscapes, sinister narratives and intangible, dark power, and Slint have become modern rock’s Velvet Underground: a band who created a ripple that kept spreading, influencing bands from Mogwai to Sigur Rós.”

Men før dette, var det altså Squirrel Bait. Mindre komplekse og mer punka i tilnærmingen, og i følge deres Wikipedia-side kan de regnes som forløpere for grunge, math rock og emocore. Ikke verst bare det! Men fakta er at urettferdig glemte Squirrel Bait så naturlig og uanstrengt som bare ungdommen evner, kombinerte smart pop-sensibilitet med støyende, rask og rastløs punk. De burde dermed hatt sin plass på øverste hylle sammen med The Replacements, The Lemonheads eller Hüsker Dü (Evan Dando og Bob Mould skal begge ha vært fans), men slik gikk det ikke. Andreutgivelsen Skag Heaven er en forbigått 80-tallsklassiker, både en svanesang, idet medlemmene forsvant til college, men også en katalysator for det som senere skulle komme.

For videre fordypning kan dette essayet av Sean Koepenick anbefales:
Chew on This: The Squirrel Bait Story

Fearless Iranians From Hell: Die For Allah
(Boner, 1987)

Americans, as a whole, have an underdeveloped sense of irony.
(Omid, Fearless Iranians From Hell, 2009)

Denne gjengen kom fra samme nabolag som fostret San Antonios stolte sønner Butthole Surfers, og de delte ikke bare litt på medlemmene men også sansen for provokativ oppførsel og svart humor. FIFH var ikke fullt så musikalsk nysgjerrige som de syrebefengte Buttholes, og holdt seg nærmere ganske tradisjonell hardcore punk. Men kombinasjonen hardcore, dypeste Texas i Reagan-tiden med politisk satire som latterliggjorde amerikansk eksepsjonalisme ved å ta side med radikal islam, Ayatollah Khomeini og jihad ga ikke store rom for kommersiell suksess. Men medlemmene var selvsagt smartere enn folkene de oppildnet. FIFH omga seg i et slør av mystikk, de forholdt seg anonyme, spilte med Finlandshetter i god terrorist-stil, gjorde aldri intervjuer og siden de fleste visstnok har blitt gode samfunnsborgere siden den gang, er dette noe de har holdt på siden. Men gjennom noen få intervjuer i ettertid har det blitt kastet litt mer lys over bandet. Tekstforfatter og sentralt medlem Omid sier til Death Metal Underground i 2009 at bandet aldri hadde en politisk agenda, men en felles kreativ agenda.

The more intelligent people figured out it was political satire, and that what we were doing was ridiculously over-the-top. But we were banking on the more thick-headed ones getting it wrong, being offended, thus drawing more attention to the band. We were attacked by police, protesters, skinheads, right-wing radio hosts, left-wing college boy bands who were too caught up in their seriousness to get what we were doing, gangs, religious organizations, promoters…hell, Fearless Iranians From Hell album covers were even featured in PTA slide-shows portraying the evils of rock ‘n’ roll. Mission accomplished.

Etter den thrasha debuten fulgte bandet opp med hakket hvassere og mer varierte Holy War året etter, før de krysset mer over mot metallen med sitt tredje album Foolish Americans i 1990. Alle anbefales, men start gjerne med den første.

Fun fact: Det sies at den første vokalisten til bandet, Amir, faktisk var fra Iran, og havnet i Texas etter sjahens fall i 1979. Medlemmene hadde for øvrig i hovedsak fra et annet punk-band i San Antonio, The Marching Plague. Vokalisten der opptrådde som Anus Presley på Butthole Surfers klassiske låt ’The Shah Sleeps In Lee Harvey’s Grave’. Texas Revolutionaries!

U-Men: Step On a Bug
(Black Label, 1988)

Denne skiva fant jeg til min store glede på et fortausalg på Neseblod for noen år siden, henslengt i en bruskasse for en billig penge. Den er ikke supersjelden, men heller ikke en plate man snubler over støtt eller stadig. Og det er ikke så rart. Dette er U-Mens eneste LP, og det er i det store og hele en ganske glemt plate – og et glemt band – for de som ikke er i overkant opptatt av Seattle-rockens historie, that is.

For U-Men er nemlig et helt sentralt band innen utviklingen av nordvest-rocken på 1980-tallet, og det som ganske snart skulle bli kjent som grunge. Seattle-regionen har en lang og rik musikkhistorie, spesielt som base for mye grom garasjerock på 60-tallet (Sonics, Wailers, Kingsmen). Etter noen litt døde år, der Heart og metalband som Queensrÿche, Metal Church og the Accüsed stakk seg mest ut, begynte en ny generasjon å røre på seg utover midten av 1980-tallet. The Wipers, Silly Killers og U-Men var blant disse pionerbandene, som ganske snart skulle få følge av flere. En av de tidligste dokumentasjonene på at noe nytt var i gjære finner vi på den fine samleren Deep Six fra 1986, utgitt på C/Z og bestående av blant andre Green River, Malfunkshun, Soundgarden, Skin Yard og U-Men. Av disse var sistnevnte de mest drevne allerede da, og minnet mer om at de ikke var alene i byen når det kom til å lage tung, vrang og søplete rock.

Det er et helt åpenbart slektskap med Step On a Bug og det soundet som Nirvana, Soundgarden og TAD senere skulle gjøre mer strømlinjeformet. U-Men trekker også opp musikalske bånd til band som The Birthday Party, Scratch Acid og Butthole Surfers, slik de alternerer mellom det paniske og brutale, et sted mellom støyrock, punk og sludge. Men det er i første rekke en aura av ‘uskyld’ over U-Men, selv om de bader i syndens pøl, i form av noe uferdig og prøvende, en leken tilnærming som bare to-tre år senere var kommersialisert, ferdigpakket og stemplet grunge.

Fun fact: Medlemmene ble senere å finne i finfine band som Gas Huffer og Love Battery, og ikke minst Tom Hazelmyer som senere gikk hen å grunnla det aldeles latterlig bra plateselskapet Amphetamin Reptile Records i Minneapolis (og bandet Halo of Flies). The Butthole Surfers parodierte vokalist John Bigley med sin egen låt ”The O-Men” (på Locust Abortion Technician), som igjen ble knabbet av Oslo-bandet The O-Men tidlig på 90-tallet, hvis medlemmer ble å finne i mer profilerte band som Gluecifer, Euroboys, Astroburger og Black Debbath.

Så da var det kanskje på sin plass da, at jeg fant U-Men i en bruskasse på et fortau på Oslos østkant.

The Frogs: It’s Only Right and Natural
(Homestead, 1988)

Milwaukee-bandet The Frogs’ hjemmelagde og dels improviserte innspillinger med satiriske homolåter var aldri tiltenkt et større marked. Men det var nettopp disse opptakene, der de skrullet rundt på kjøkkenet hjemme, Homestead Records ville utgi akkurat som de var.  Låter som ”Men (Come on Men)”, ”Dykes Are We” og ”Been a Month Since I Had a Man” dekker mye av innholdet på en plate som balanserer mellom infantil humor og øyeblikk av skarpskodd vidd. Deres omgang med vulgariteter og tabuer ertet på seg den kristne høyresiden og skapte kontroverser i mange kretser: Var de homser eller homofober, drev de med samfunnssatire eller var det bare, vel, kødd.

Homestead slang seg på og proklamerte at The Frogs var ledere i en ’new gay supremacy movement’. Mer beslektet med Ween enn Turboneger i deres denimperiode, It’s Only Right and Natural er ikke så mye å bli hverken provosert over eller ekstremt bergtatt av i dag, men på sitt beste er dette skeiv (pun intented) og catchy pop, tidvis småsur og surrete lo-fi- men det ligger jo så visst en slags sjarme også der.

Brødrene Flemion, Jimmy og Dennis, ble senere kompiser med blant andre Smashing Pumpkins og Pearl Jam, Kurt Cobain var fan og Beck har samplet fra skiva deres. Jeg har ikke hørt deres andre utgivelser p.t., men It’s Only Right And Natural er ikke bare en personlig favoritt men også en plate som med årene har fått stadig større kultstempel, og i 2011 inviterte Animal Collective, som da kuraterte det årets All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, bandet over for å framføre skiva i sin helhet.

En plate som åpner med linjene ’I’ve got drugs that’ll blow your mind tonight’ kan da heller ikke trå særlig feil.

Honor Role: Rictus
(Homestead, 1989)

Honor Role leverte fra seg sitt grovt forbigåtte mesterstykke Rictus før de gikk hver til sitt ved inngangen til 1990-årene. Kvartetten ble dannet i Richmond, Virginia i 1983 og hentet i utgangspunktet inspirasjon fra rådende tendenser innen hardcore punk, hvis skjematiske grenser de raskt sprengte og utviklet mot noe helt annet.

Rictus er dominert av en tight rytmeseksjon, sagende gitarer, komplekse melodistrukturer, og en autoritær snakkesyngende vokalist i Bob Schick som la grunnlaget for låter som i overraskende liten grad høres datert ut etter nærmere 30 år. Deres form for dystopisk post-punk (tenk The Birthday Party, The Fall) og mørk indierock (Big Black, Squirrel Bait) er også et åpenbart frampek mot post-rocken som Slint skulle gjøre seg så bemerket for bare et par år senere, men Honor Role kan også høres som et protoband innen emo/math rock og harDCore (Fugazi, Drive Like Jehu). Den usle plassen de er tildelt langs glemselens bord burde vært mer prominent i kraft av deres innflytelse og måten de viste vei fra det formelbaserte mot det visjonære.

Gitarist Pen Rollings ble senere aktiv i Butterglove og mer kjente Breadwinner, og Seth Harris joinet Kepone (deres Ugly Dance fra 1994 skal få være med i den kommende oppfølgerserien om 90-tallet).

Toppalbum 1955-2000

Hvis man nå absolutt måtte tilbringe resten av livet på en øde øy, med strøm og platespiller vel og merke, og fikk mulighet til å ta med seg kun ÉN plate fra hvert år, hvilke skulle man tatt med seg? Denne høyst reelle utfordringen avstedkom etter noe tankevirksomhet følgende liste. Den gir, om ikke en perfekt avspeiling over favorittskivene, en ganske representativ oversikt med vei som ikke overraskende går fra jazz via syrerock og punk til undergrunnsrock og post-rock. En riktig så fin reise ble det faktisk, så da er det bare å pakke kofferten.

Utvalget er  for øvrig avgrenset til kun én plate pr. artist.

1955 Frank Sinatra – In the Wee Small Hours
1956 Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus
1957 Art Pepper – Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section
1958 Cannonball Adderly – Somethin’ Else
1959 John Fahey – Blind Joe Death

1960 Ornette Coleman – Free Jazz
1961 Thelonious Monk – Thelonius Monk With John Coltrane
1962 Bill Evans – Waltz For Debby
1963 Charles Mingus – The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
1964 Lee Morgan – The Sidewinder
1965 John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
1966 The Beatles – Revolver
1967 The Velvet Undergroud & Nico – s/t
1968 The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Electric Ladyland
1969 Miles Davis – In a Silent Way

1970 Soft Machine – Third
1971 Black Sabbath – Masters of Reality
1972 Nick Drake – Pink Moon
1973 Can – Future Days
1974 Neil Young – On the Beach
1975 Brian Eno – Another Green World
1976 Warren Zevon – s/t
1977 Television – Marquee Moon
1978 Blondie – Parallel Lines
1979 The Clash – London Calling

1980 The Feelies – Crazy Rhythms
1981 Wipers – Youth of America
1982 The Dream Syndicate – Days of Wine and Roses
1983 R.E.M – Murmur
1984 Minutemen – Double Nickels on the Dime
1985 Giant Sand – Valley of Rain
1986 Slayer – Reign in Blood
1987 Dinosaur Jr. – You’re Living All Over Me
1988 Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation
1989 Pixies – Doolittle

1990 Fugazi – Repeater
1991 Slint – Spiderland
1992 Angelo Badalamenti – Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
1993 Beastie Boys – Ill Communication
1994 Motorpsycho – Timothy’s Monster
1995 The God Machine – One Last Laugh in the Place of Dying
1996 Tortoise – Millions Now Living Will Never Die
1997 Built to Spill – Perfect From Now On
1998 Karate – The Bed Is in the Ocean
1999 Bonnie Prince Billy – I See a Darkness
2000 Songs: Ohia – Ghost Tropic

How Did They Find Themselves Here? The Dream Syndicate: Album by Album


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In the late 1970s Los Angeles was a key hub for punk rock and hardcore music, spawning crucial bands like Black Flag, Germs and Circle Jerks. At the turn of the decade, just as that boom started to fade, a new generation rolled into town keeping the untamed punk spirit alive while reverberating echoes of the pre-punk era.

Eighties Los Angeles became a hotbed for pioneering alternative rock acts, leaning equally towards country and folk, in the form of cowpunk, and psychedelia, manifesting a scene known as the Paisley Underground. Man, it must have been a thrilling place! Standout bands like The Gun Club, X, Green On Red, The Rain Parade, The Long Ryders and True West are just some of the acts that planted cactus roots in the land of palms. But none were more thrilling or vital than The Dream Syndicate.

Even though they belonged to the same scene as the ones mentioned above, The Dream Syndicate didn’t sound like anyone else at the time. Originally based around Steve Wynn (guitar, vocals), Karl Precoda (guitar) Kendra Smith (bass) and Dennis Duck (drums), Syndicate was all about loud guitars and a boundless approach, creating a musical habitat equally leaning on the harrowing echoes of Neil Young and Crazy Horse, the intricate guitar work of Television, the drone soundscapes of The Velvet Underground and the improvisational elements of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler.

The band cemented their legacy early on the seminal 1982 debut, The Days of Wine and Roses, a hands-down masterpiece that exhibits everything they were capable of. Although loud, psychedelic guitar rock was not the hippest of sounds in the ’80s, but it resonated surprisingly well for a subculture that later became known as college rock, which The Dream Syndicate pioneered along with the likes of their close friends in R.E.M, Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr.

In 1983 The Dream Syndicate secured an opening slot for U2 on their U.S. tour, and the newfound national spotlight landed them a contract with A&M Records. Along with the record deal came a budget that allowed them to hire Sandy Pearlman (Blue Oyster Cult, The Clash) as producer, resulting in their much more expansive sophomore album, The Medicine Show (1984).

Being dropped from the majors due to disappointing album sales, on top of internal struggles and various line-up changes didn’t prevent two more albums to follow. After a temporary retirement, which allowed Steve Wynn and compadre Dan Stuart of Green On Red to join forces as the drunken barroom outfit Danny & Dusty, Syndicate returned with newfound energy on 1986′s Out of The Grey. Following yet another pause, they crafted the dark and dense album, Ghost Stories, produced by Elliot Mazer of Neil Young fame.

In just six years time, The Dream Syndicate had forged a unique and distinctive four-album catalog that earns them a place among the seminal guitar bands of the 1980s. They capped off the decade with Live at Raji’s, an ecstatic live album that fully captured their energetic shows, without any technical bonds and a statement most bands can dream of.

As the ’80s turned to the ’90s, the Dream Syndicate was put to rest. Steve Wynn continued on as the far most profiled artist, under his own name and in bands like Gutterball and The Baseball Project, while other members drifted in different directions. Their music maintained a strong cult following no one really expected their return.

Then, in 2012, The Dream Syndicate miraculously reunited for a Spanish music festival. Made up of Wynn, Mark Walton (bass), Dennis Duck on drums and newcomer Jason Victor on guitar, the magic was still there. The band has since played over 50 shows and toured throughout the U.S. and Europe.

In 2016 they headed into the studio to begin work on their first album in 29 years. Released on September 8 by Anti- Records, How Did I Find Myself Here? is a triumphant return for a band that never lost its spark.

We invited Steve Wynn for a look in the back mirror and guide us through their catalog while we anticipate their new album.

* * *

The Dream Syndicate: Album by Album
By Steve Wynn

The Days of Wine and Roses
(Ruby, 1982)

Where it all began – to be specific, during three consecutive midnight to 8 a.m. sessions at Quad Tech Studios in East Hollywood in September of 1982.

We tracked all of the songs on the first night. And I sang them and did a few guitar bits and pieces the second night. We mixed the whole thing on the third and we all went to our day jobs in between.

I worked as a clerk at Rhino Records so it’s not like it was the most demanding job in the world. But I do remember going in and opening the store after we finished with a cassette of the mixes in my hand.

I played it to an empty store and knew that we had done something special, that we had made an album that lived up to our loftiest ambitions and intentions

Medicine Show
(A&M, 1984)

The first record took three days. This one took five months, working almost every day during those five months, usually about 12 hours a day.

On the same 8 songs. Yes, it’s almost impossible to believe.

Chock it up to the times, the ’80s became the Era of The Producer, a time when newfound technology and those at the helm felt that they were there for much more than the mere task of capturing art.

Chock it up to the actual producer we had chosen, Sandy Pearlman (Blue Oyster Cult, The Clash), who I later found out was notorious for going way over a deadline and most certainly over budget.

Chock it up to our ambition to make something deeper, bigger and most intense than our first.

Whatever, they were very different records but they fit together in my mind and this one is quite often my favorite. It creates its own world and I really feel like there’s no other record quite like it. Oh, and some of my favorite songs that I’ve ever written.

Out of the Grey
(Big Time, 1986)

The band broke up in December. Karl and I weren’t talking. It had stopped being fun. And the newfound excesses – of chemicals, alcohol, experience, ego, fame – didn’t work in our favor.

So, that was it.

At least that was it until Mark and Dennis and I realized that we liked playing together and we invited Paul B. Cutler (45 Grave and, the producer of our first EP) to join us.

It worked. It was a blast. It was fun.

And the giddiness of everything being fun again comes through on this record, the title track being the taste of rising up, phoenix-like, from the ashes.

It’s upbeat, breezy, things not normally associated with our band.

Ghost Stories
(Enigma, 1988)

By this time Mark and Paul and Dennis and I had spent a lot of time on the road, and you can hear it on this record. I think that in some ways we put it all together on this one.

It’s dark, it’s noisy, it’s bratty but it’s also quite self-assured and not undone by production – neither too little nor too much.

It’s just us.

Credit must be given to producer Elliot Mazer (responsible for Neil Young’s Harvest, for one) who went for a live immediacy and transparent, rocking sound. It doesn’t sound dated. It sounds like us and, although we didn’t know it at the time, it was a good way to go out.

Oh, and much of it features Chris Cacavas, who had become a fifth member and still is to this day.

Live At Raji’s
(Enigma, 1989)

Paul’s guitar was stolen and we were all broke and most definitely uninsured. So we played a gig at our favorite local Hollywood hangout, Raji’s, to make enough to buy him a new one. And what the hell, we thought, let’s record it as well.

Elliot was around and had the idea to record the show direct to DAT (remember DAT, kids?). He was upstairs with his gear and recorder while we rocked out in the basement.

Man, we were ON that night – no jitters or worries about being recorded. We let it all fly. You hear this record and you hear what we did night after night on stages around the world.

When the show was done, so was the record. Performed and recorded and fully mixed all at the same time.

Some people say it’s our best record. Who am I to argue?

How Did I Find Myself Here
(Anti-, 2017)

A 29-year gap between our fourth and fifth albums. Who does that? Has there ever been a longer gap between albums in a band’s history. I don’t know. But this feels both like a continuation of our saga and something altogether brand new.

We neither wanted to ignore our past nor slavishly reproduce it.

And then we went into the studio and didn’t think about any of that. We just played.

Five days of playing in Richmond, Virginia at Montrose Studios, aided and abetted by our new guitarist Jason Victor (who had played in my solo band, the Miracle 3, since 2001). We knew from the start that it was going well and we just kept going and followed the music where it wanted to take us.

It took us someplace very special.

And that’s how we found ourselves here.

See you on the road.

– Steve Wynn, September 2017

Bjørn Hammershaug